French movie theaters say 'lights out!'

Outside lights to be turned off in protest on Wednesday

PARIS -- Lights will go off at movie theaters all across the City of Lights on Wednesday as the French capital joins a national movement of solidarity to symbolize the danger facing theatrical distribution in the territory.

More than 2,000 movie theaters in France plan to shut off all of their outside lights from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the day new films are released in the country.

Gallic cinema organization the FNCF has launched the operation in response to anti-piracy law the Hadopi which now allows DVDs to be released just four months after a film's theatrical release.

Movie theater owners fear that spectators won't head out to cinemas to see movies if they only have to wait a few months before they can rent, buy or legally download them.

By turning off their lights, cinema owners are hoping to show audiences what France's cities would look like without operational movie theaters. Both independent theaters and French majors including MK2, UGC and Gaumont plan to join "operation lights out" in continued efforts to urge the country's government to compensate them for the gap between the rise in ticket sales (11%) and inflation (19%).

France boasts the top theatrical network in Europe with 2,100 theaters and 5,400 screens.