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ARP swiping cards

Group to accept major exhibs' flat-rate passes

PARIS — The French Directors and Producers Assn. (ARP) is using novel tactics to step up its fight against flat-rate monthly cinema passes sold by France’s main exhibitors. As of today, they will grant free admittance to any moviegoer with such a pass at the org’s three Paris cinemas.

ARP assistant director Michel Gomez explained to Daily Variety that it is accepting the cards “to see what the main exhibitors will do.”

Independent move

Gomez added that no deal has been struck with UGC, Pathe or Gaumont, the main exhibs offering the cards.

UGC head Guy Verrechia has already offered to give independent exhibitors who strike a deal half of a ticket price, set arbitrarily at 33 francs ($4.70) for each entry with a pass. The other half of the set price would go to distributors. UGC aims to make its money off the price of the pass and increased concession sales.

“We want to see if the distributors will get half of the (33 francs), or if they will only get half of what the main exhibitors make directly on the passes,” Gomez said.

Furthermore, he confirmed that ARP has not abandoned efforts to take UGC before the Council of Competition in an attempt to stop the Carte Illimitee.

Funding issues

ARP has weighed against the cards, which allow cinemagoers to see as many films as they want for about $14 a month, arguing that they upset the funding of French cinema production. Under the complex system, part of the price of every ticket sold in France is plowed back into the industry.

UGC led the pack by bowing its program in March. It has sold over 110,000 passes to audiences around France, and some 10,000 more customers are joining the ranks every week.

Gaumont’s Le Pass goes on sale today in Paris theaters for the same price.

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