European Exhibitors Against European Commission Release Window Model

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U.K. culture secretary Maria Miller among those issued warning

A triumverate of organizations pen a joint letter to individual member state culture ministers warning against day and date releasing and theatrical windows for movies.

LONDON – A powerful triumvirate of organizations repping European cinema exhibitors have written to member states ministers across Europe warning that ongoing attempts by the European Commission, the European Union's executive body, to influence film release schedules threaten the future of the European film industry.

In an open letter Tuesday (Dec. 11) to relevant ministers in EU member states – including the U.K. culture secretary Maria Miller and Germany's media and culture minister Bernd Neumann, the Union Internationale des Cinemas (UNIC), the Confederation Internationale des Cinemas d’Art et d’Essai (CICAE) and the Europa Cinemas network issued a clear warning.

The letter said that attempts by the European Commission to interfere with the "media chronology" - the practice of releasing films on different platforms according to consumer preferences - threaten the future of theatrical exhibition and the ability of EU member States to decide how best to support film and cinemas in their respective territories.

Written to each minister in his or her native tongue, the letter follows a previous missive to EU leaders strongly criticizing a new pilot support scheme set up by the MEDIA Program which encouraged distributors and international sales agents to experiment with day-and-date releases, eroding time given up to movie releases in cinemas.

UNIC CEO Jan Runge said the aim was to "raise awareness of the fact that EU policy makers are increasingly promoting their personal views on when, where and how the film sector “should” release its titles."

Runge said such ministerial views "differ significantly from those of a majority of film and cinema professionals in Europe" and that they are not based on evidence."

The European institutions are currently rethinking the systems in place used to promote the well-being of the European film and cinema sector around several areas including competition policy, copyright, digital distribution and support for the film and cinema sector.

Added Runge: "European cinema exhibitors wholeheartedly support EU attempts to foster the circulation of European works across borders. We also share the view that VOD should eventually become an important market for European films. Yet, restraining those that invest most into film and cinemas cannot be the answer to overcoming the challenges of the sector. Cinemas are key to the successful exploitation of films on all platforms and should therefore be granted the right to exploit titles exclusively at the beginning of the release schedule."

UNIC is Europe’s trade association of cinema exhibitors and reps associations and companies in the European Union, Russia, Turkey and Israel.