Exhibs in ‘Hulk’ sulk

UIP price hike spurs Cinemaxx boycott of pic

This article was updated at 3:00 p.m.

BERLIN — “The Hulk’s” performance in Germany is set to suffer after Cinemaxx, the territory’s second largest exhib, vowed to boycott the blockbuster in the continuing battle over rental prices between UIP and local exhibs.

The pic opens on Thursday — but not on Cinemaxx’s 356 screens in 49 theaters.

UIP is pushing to raise minimum floor terms for non-urban cinemas and multiplexes from 47.5% to 52.5% starting with “The Hulk,” and up to 55% across the board starting next year with “Van Helsing.”

“Cinema prices have reached a level that we see as the limit,” said Hans-Joachim Flebbe, CEO of Cinemaxx, which has 30% of the multiplex market.

“We cannot and will not go along with this,” said Flebbe, adding that Cinemaxx will no longer carry films that have rental price increases contractually attached to them. Other exhibs have also threatened to boycott the pic as well as UIP’s upcoming “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas,” which opens July 24.

Cinemaxx spokesman Arne Schmidt added that although UIP’s new pricing model slightly lowered prices for some exhibs in the short term — it would initially lower prices for theaters and multiplexes in dense urban areas and major cities from 53.5% to 52.5% and create a flat rate nationwide — the scheme would open the flood gates for price hikes throughout the market for blockbuster titles.

Schmidt added that terms such as blockbuster and tentpole were increasingly being used to over-price films that do not live up to expectations. “These terms don’t mean anything.”

Cinemaxx remains open to discussion with UIP to find a solution, Schmidt said, adding that Cinemaxx may pick up “The Hulk” in its second week if an agreement with UIP is reached.

UIP refused to comment.

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