Distribs up prices 5%

BERLIN — Small-town cinemas in Germany, angry at what they see as an organized effort on the part of the major U.S. distributors to raise film print rental prices, are preparing for battle.

The trend has been gradual but steady, said Wolf-Dietrich von Verschuer, managing director of the German Cinema Owners Assn.

One after the other, the big distribs have upped the rental prices from 48% to 53% of the admission price for moviehouses in areas with populations of less than 50,000.

“In terms of costs, that means increases of up to 10% for many small cinemas,” von Verschuer told Daily Variety. With already high admission rates, cinemas wouldn’t dare raise admission prices to counter the effect, he added. “It’s going to be very difficult for many of these cinemas to survive.”

Until now, distribs have charged such rental rates only in big cities.

A number of theater owners are filing complaints with the German and European antitrust authorities, accusing the majors of price fixing.

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