French arthouse exhibitor Action plans to launch the "Action Gitanes" discount card in July. The card - which will cost $36 (FFr250) for entrance to 10 films and is valid for a year - is the first independent answer to major exhibitor UGC's highly controversial "UGC Illimite" card.
Action operates six screens in Paris which mostly show reruns of classic movies. The scheme also allows Gitanes card holders to purchase a ticket for a guest at the same $3.60 (FFr25) discount price.
UGC Illimite, launched March 29, was strongly opposed by the independent exhibitors' unions because smaller exhibitors could not match the offer. UGC's card costs $14 (FFr95) per month for a one year period and gives unlimited access to UGC's theatres and multiplexes.
Following the independents' protest, French culture minister Catherine Tasca called on the competition council to rule on whether the cards should be continued. As a result, UGC has had its Illimite operation on hold since May.