UK no-frills exhibitor easyCinema has admitted that it could be forced to close its flagship Milton Keynes cinema and exit the exhibition business if it continues to experience difficulties in securing first run titles.
easy - which has no concessions stand or box office and offers tickets online for as low as £0.20 - launched in May, taking over UCI's 10-screen The Point in Milton Keynes. The company proposed offering distributors a flat fee for prints, rather than adopting the industry's revenue sharing model, and its business model uses a yield management pricing structure with tickets at a low price if booked ahead for off-peak times.
But the company has been frustrated by its inability to secure first run titles from UK distributors, and admits that the future of its cinema is under threat.
"If we have to continue in the same situation where we are blanked out by the distributors it is not a sustainable business model," James Rothnie, easyGroup's director of corporate affairs, told Screen Daily.
easy, owned by entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou and part of his easyGroup empire, previously instructed its lawyers to discuss the issue with UK competition watchdog the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and is now preparing to present its case to anti-competition authorities in Brussels.
Last week, Haji-Ioannou spoke about the company's difficulties at the Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee inquiry into the British film industry.
"We will continue to try and run the business, and look for evidence to take to the European Commission," said Rothnie.
The company has a three-year lease on The Point with a two-year extension option, and launched with a marketing budget of £300,000 for the first three months. It continues to operate the cinema and is still talking to distributors.
Earlier this month the company secured a range of previously-released titles from Warner Bros, including the first two installments of the Harry Potter franchise, but all of the titles are already available on DVD and video in the UK.