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Norway exhibs lose controls

End of fixed rates means dealing directly with distribs

The European Fair Trade Assn. has ended a 50-year-old film rental agreement between local distributors and Norwegian cinema body Film&Kino, which fixes rates so that small theaters pay less than their big-city brethren.

“The theaters in Norway’s 18 largest cities must now individually discuss rentals with the distributors,” said managing director Lene Loken, of Film&Kino.

“Audiences will lose because tickets will become more expensive. Cinemas will lose because the work will be more complicated and their position weaker. Film culture will lose because smaller titles will never be programmed.

“The only winners are the U.S. majors, which — through their local distributors — can now dictate rental prices. How can a small municipal theater in the provinces fight a demand for a Disney movie?

“Ironically, a European controlling body (the EFTA) has damaged European cinema, which most European countries spend millions of dollars to promote,” Loken concluded.

Municipalities own and run most Norwegian theaters as a public service, including the largest circuit, the 10-venue Norsk Kinodrift. Less than 20 city salles post a profit.

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