About 200 filmmakers have signed an open letter in Frenchdaily Le Monde calling for a limit tothe number of prints sent out to theatres on a film's release.

Among the signatories were members of the Agence Pour LeCinema Independant Et Sa Diffusion (ACID) including Chantal Akerman, CedricKlapisch, Bertrand Tavernier, Nicolas Philibert, Jean-Jacques Beneix and LucasBelvaux.

The signatories wrote: "We filmmakers ask that fromnow on no film monopolise more than 10% of our screens so that cinema can live inits diversity." They have called for legislation to force a cap of 528screens or 10% of the available space.

French cinemas are bombarded each week by the release of atleast ten films and sometimes as many as 18. And with major distributorsincreasingly using wide release platforms - as high as 800 prints - theindependents believe they are being edged out.

While Warner Bros. moved to release a reduced number ofprints of The Last Samurai in January tospearhead a battle against this very problem others have yet to follow suit.

ACID noted that on Jan 2 four films occupied 3,022 ofFrance's 5,280 screens (Finding Nemo, Lord Of The Rings : The Return Of TheKing, Scary Movie 3 and LesRipoux).

The consequence of the resulting dearth of available screens"obliges independent distributors to engage in fratricide for the fewremaining screens," wrote the filmmakers.

Due to the increasing number of films and the increasingamount of prints many films are not able to sustain the necessary shelf lifethat creates buzz and word of mouth. "If these films were maintained witha sufficient number of screens," wrote ACID, "they would find anaudience and an economic coherence. "

Otherwise, believes ACID, "the ensemble of filmproduction is put in danger."