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UGC must sell screens

The French government, under pressure from producers and indie exhibitors to guarantee fair competition in the Paris exhibition market, will instruct Gallic major UGC to sell off screens on the Champs Elysees.

The decision, which is expected to be made official at the end of the month, is believed to involve four UGC screens on Paris’ prestigious avenue — known as a strategically vital launching pad for major films.

Culture Ministry sources told Daily Variety they couldn’t comment on details, but admitted that reports of the government’s decision are more or less accurate.

Indieexhibs have become increasingly concerned over the state of the Paris exhibition market, arguing that almost all firstrun cinema screens are in the hands of UGC or rival Gaumont.

The government decision is said to have been driven by fears that as producer and distributor, UGC could be tempted to favor its Paris hardtops with the films it distributes, freezing out the indies.

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