Argentina box office affected by labor dispute

BUENOS AIRES — Opening numbers for “Transformers” in Argentina may be down as auds stayed away from cinemas Thursday due to a widely publicized projectionists’ strike in Buenos Aires.

In fact, execs manned projectors and only one theater, an arthouse complex, closed, according to Norberto Feldman, VP of Argentina’s Federation of Film Exhibitors.

The Socra union, which reps 6%-7% of the country’s 3,000 projectionists, called a 24-hour walkout to demand a 40% wage hike, sparking concern of a plunge in ticket sales at the start of winter holidays, when admissions generally surge.

Buenos Aires accounts for a third of the country’s 36 million people and most of its 1,000 screens.

Workers at Cinemark, Hoyts General Cinema, Showcase Cinemas and Village Cinemas, chains that operate a third of the screens and dominate 70% of box office receipts, are repped by a different union.

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