Teutonic resistance

Small exhibs oppose rental hikes for UIP

BERLIN — German exhibs in rural areas and small towns are threatening to boycott new pics including “The Hulk” and “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” because of fears that UIP intends to raise its rentals share outside cities.

UIP reportedly wants to hike minimum floor terms from 47.5% to 52.5%, and up to 55% starting next year with “Van Helsing.”

“The economic climate is bad enough without having to raise prices,” said Andreas Kramer, managing director of German film theater body HDF. “If film theaters accept these terms, it opens the door to further rises and we’ll soon see prices at 60%.”

UIP could not be reached for comment.

Level field

The increase has not been made official, but the distrib is said to have approached theaters around the country with the new pricing system. The model would lower prices for theaters and multiplexes in cities from 53.5% to 52.5%, making it attractive to some big-city exhibs and creating a flat rate nationwide.

But Kramer said the price change will endanger Germany’s exhib industry. “Multiplexes and cinemas in rural areas could not afford firstrun films at those prices. For the price they’re paying now, exhibitors would have to wait for a third- or fourth-week pickup, and at that point a film won’t attract many viewers.”

Short window

He added that the rise in piracy has decreased the time a film can spend in wide release.

The HDF is developing a pricing model based on the number of viewers a pic attracts within the first week. “We’d like to present to distributors a model we think is fair,” Kramer said. “Why should theaters be forced to pay 52.5% for ‘The Hulk’ or any other movie if it’s a flop?”

Kramer said there was still time to avert the pic boycotts. “Hulk” hits local cinemas Thursday. “Sinbad” will open July 24.

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