Germany's exhibitorassociations HDF and AG Kino have criticised distributor X Verleih for planningto release Dani Levy's comedy Alles Auf Zucker! on free-TV station WDRjust three months after its Jan 6 theatrical premiere.

AG Kino said it feared that 'a precedent' wasbeing set to undermine release window dates. Earlier in the year, Fahrenheit9/11 ran on television in Germany before the US election in November justmonths after its July theatrical release.

The move comes as release windows across the worldare contracting. Richard Eyre's Stage Beauty, for example, aired ontelevision last week in the UK, just a few months after its theatrical release.

X Verleih head of distribution Anatol Nitschkesaid: "For us, it was about making agreat, amusing film that was produced by a TV station available for atheatrical release. That wasn't easy and therefore we accepted a shortwindow.'

In a letter to cinema-owners now offering themthe reduced rental of 43.5%, X Verleih explained that they discussed the possibilityof a theatrical release with the commissioning broadcaster WDR after seeing therough cut.

"After a sensational test screening in a Munichcinema all the arguments were then on our side,' the letter noted,pointing out that 'the German Film Law (FFG) also provides for such anexceptional ruling for such television films. And that's what it is: a bigexception.'