Euro Commish ends movie probe

Studios okay deal on digital film distribution

A threatened antitrust probe into digital film distribution in Europe has been called off following concessions from Hollywood studios.

The European Commission announced Friday that it was suspending the investigation after the majors involved revised their contracts with integrators, the companies that finance digital conversion of cinemas and channel content. The EC declined to name the studios on the grounds of confidentiality.

Probe was mooted to test concerns that the contracts restricted independent distributors’ access to cinemas with digital equipment.

Attention centered on a requirement that the studios benefit from the most favorable terms offered by the integrators.

The EC feared this requirement, conceived to ensure a level playing field between the majors, was stopping integrators from tailoring deals to the business models of independent distribs. For example, a lower virtual print fee for an arthouse film would automatically have to be applied to every blockbuster in an integrator’s portfolio.

Without specifying details, the EC said that the contracts have been modified so that this is no longer a concern.