Twentieth Century Fox and UGC are ending their French theatricaljoint distribution venture UGC Fox Distribution (UFD) and will launch separatedistribution operations in the territory at the start of 2005.

In a joint statement, the companies attributed the end to volumeand shifting conditions in the French marketplace.

"With the number of titles UGC and Fox are producing and theFrench market undergoing considerable changes over the past 10 years, we feltit was the logical step to separate the partnership in favour of our ownseparate ventures," the statement said.

It continued: "We have together built not only an exceptionaldistribution partnership but also a great relationship which will continue intothe future."

The companies said details of the new operations would be forthcoming, although Fox executives were not available to expand on the joint statement.

It is understood, however, that Jose Covo, who became head of UFD 18 months ago, is set to become managing director of the new Twentieth Century Fox France operation.

The decision to dissolve UFD is said to have been mutual, with no connection to the recent change in UGC's ownership structure.

In January, Vivendi Universal reduced its stake in UGC from 60% to 40%, leaving the Verrecchia family, headed by UGC president Guy Verrecchia, owning a majority of the French production, distribution and exhibition operation.

UFD was launched in July 1995 and has released titles including Titanic,Star Wars Episode 1, Minority Report, Amelie, Tanguyand Tais-Toi.

Fox currently has distribution arrangements with outside companies in two other major European territories. In Spain, the studio works with Alquimia Cinema and in Germany it has arrangements with Splendid and Prokino.