UK no-frills exhibitor easyCinema has struck a deal with 20th Century Fox to screen its first ever first-run film, Down With Love, starring Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger.
Until now the company has been frustrated by its inability to secure first run titles from distributors in the UK.
EasyCinema is owned by entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who told ScreenDaily.com that the Fox agreement for Down With Love was a one-off - although he hoped to secure other films from Fox on a film by film basis.
"It's a significant breakthrough," added Haji-Ioannou. "It's not the biggest blockbuster but it is something."
Down With Love will start showing at easyCinema in Milton Keynes when it goes on general release on Oct 3.
EasyCinema, 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.
Haji-Ioannou said that Fox would be able to see for itself whether his flat fee method offers the best deal for distributors - by comparing how it performs for them compared with other traditional cinemas. He added that a number of other distributors were also considering offering easyCinema first-run films, but that others were still flatly refusing to do so.
Pricing for Down With Love will start at £1.00, rising to a maximum of £4.80.
The Fox move comes after competition watchdog the Office of Fair Trading announced in July a review of UK film distribution.
EasyCinema has also threatened to sue Hollywood studios in the US over its inability to secure first-run films. Haji-Ioannou said that last week he travelled to New York to receive legal advice and, in particular, was studying the US precedent of Milgram v Loews.
According to easyCinema, in this case a drive-in movie theatre won an anti-trust case against film distributors for refusing to supply first run films to the theatre despite the drive-in cinema's offer of higher rentals than conventional cinemas.