Exhib network ups screenings share of Euro fare to 60%

LONDON — Europa Cinemas, which held its annual assembly Saturday in Cannes, reported an improved market share for European pics in its network of theaters in the past year.

Founded in 1992, the network consists of 1,562 screens in 664 theaters, spread across 365 cities in 59 countries. It receives coin from the European Commission, the National Center for Cinematography (CNC) in France, Eurimages and the French ministry for foreign affairs.

Theaters belonging to the network devoted nearly 60% of their screenings to European films in 2005, up from 55% in 2004. Screenings for non-national European pics rose from 34% to 37%.

Some 13% of screenings were devoted to pics from Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Europa Cinemas said its theaters enjoy a competitive edge over other theaters as a result of the diversity of their skeds and their ability to cultivate customer loyalty by providing distinctive programming.

“The audience is looking for theaters that have a strong identity and a strong link with their audiences,” said Europa Cinemas exec Fatima Djoumer.

Europa Cinemas will award its Label prize to the best European film in Directors Fortnight at Cannes.

A jury of four exhibitors will award the Label, with the winning pics receiving extended theatrical runs and promotion support in Europa Cinemas theaters.

On this year’s jury are Pierre Nicolas Combe of the L’Entrepot in Paris; Linda Pariser of the Cornerhouse in Manchester, U.K.; Jimmy Stergiakis of the Asty and Alfaville theaters in Athens; and Greta Zabukaite of the Skalvijos Kino Centras theater in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The Label prize also is awarded for pics in the Panorama section at Berlin and the Venice Days section at the Venice fest.

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