French exhibitor Gaumont, severely hit by a slump in cinema ticket sales following the launch of UGC's cinema loyalty pass in March 2000, has seen its revenues slide 15% to $215m in 2000, despite launching its own pass last September, in partnership with Paris exhibitor MK2.

Gaumont - which merged its exhibition operations with Pathe early this year - has lost the battle of Paris, where it competes head on with UGC and where 60% of all passes were issued last year, according to a recent survey by French film industry support organisation Centre National de la Cinematographie (CNC).

Half the theaters (representing two thirds of the screens and 70% of the seats) in the French capital accept passes. As a result, admissions in Paris jumped by 11% (compared to a 8% rise on a national level) to 28 million in 2000.

UGC (124 screens compared to Gaumont/MK2's 125 screens). raked up some 2 million more admissions - 70% of the nearly 3 million-admission total gain - a 22% rise compared to 1999.

However, the late implementation of the loyalty pass scheme only accentuated Gaumont's market share slide in the Paris region which started as early as 1998 when it dropped to 26% (from 28% in 1997) to slide again to 24% in 1999, ending up at 22% in 2000, whereas UGC's share has steadily increased from 31% in 1996 to 36% in 1999, finally reaching 40% last year.