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China's Theater Chains to Fight Against Film Distributors

2012-11-19 13:27:15        Chinese Films

Five Chinese film distributors' sudden ultimatum to theaters. []

Five Chinese film distributors suddenly issued an ultimatum to theaters, requesting a raise in their profit shares yesterday. But theater bosses said no.

Wu Hehu, a senior manager for Shanghai United Circuit Ltd., told Southern Metropolis Daily that nationwide theater chains couldn't accept either the form or content of the distributors' notice.

China Film Group Corporation, Huayi Brothers Media Group, Bona Film Group, Stellar Mega Films Ltd., and Enlight Pictures Co., Ltd. have joined forces to ask theaters to raise their box office profit shares from 43 percent to 45 percent as the new year's film season starts to take shape, and blockbusters, including Feng Xiaogang's "Back to 1942" and Jackie Chan's "CZ12" will soon hit Chinese screens.

Most cinema bosses are keeping a low profile over the dispute, while vaguely stating that distributors and theaters should understand one another. But Wu responded clearly and strongly by saying both parties should sit down and negotiate and refrain from making one-sided demands.

Wu also said Shanghai United Circuit has gathered a string of other theater chains to boycott distributors' unilateral "unreasonable demands" and gave strong words, saying: "If they insist, and we both cannot reach a consensus, we will stop screening their films!" Wu said film companies unilaterally asked to raise their share just before new golden film season, "they have a dirty agenda."

But Qin Hong, chairman of Stellar Mega Films Ltd., said: "I'm a film producer and I also work in the theater business. I understand film companies are under great pressure. This is actually the leverage effect. The question of profit sharing is not just about current costs, everyone should understand the trend." Qin said he is optimistic and expects theaters to eventually concede and the profit share will rise for most films during the next year.

Over the weekend Chinese theater chain managers will meet in Shenzhen to attend an industry conference, and will likely discuss how to respond to the dispute. A Wanda Cinema official said the negotiation results may come out next week and promised that the dispute has nothing to do with audiences. "We will not raise ticket prices."


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