Distributor Kinowelt has entered the debate on the lengthof theatrical "windows" by offering exhibitors a new arrangement forthe calculation of rental charges.

In principle, Kinowelt intends to hold fast to asix-month "window" before a film can appear on video and DVD. In theevent of one of its new films having an earlier DVD release, the Leipzig-baseddistributor would offer cinemas a reduction in the percentage of the cinemarental due.

Organised as a sliding scale, the distributor cut of therental would be reduced by 4% if the theatrical window falls to five months, 9%if the window only lasts four months, and by 17% if the film is set to appearon video and DVD within three months of its theatrical launch.

Georg Miros, Kinowelt Filmverleih's head of marketing andsales, reported that the distributor had been made "particularlyaware" of the exhibitors' problems in the weeks leading up to the releaseof Mr & Mrs Smith. "Now we are making a concrete offer to allcinemas and are pleased with the very positive echoes," Miros said.

"Our new distribution rental model takes intoaccount the great role the cinemas play in the exploitation of our films",added Kinowelt's managing director Bertil le Claire.

In a further sign of solidarity with the exhibitors, Kinoweltalso announced that the DVD release of Mr & Mrs Smith - which hasbeen seen by over 1.5m cinemamgoers in Germany since its July 21 theatricalrelease - would be pushed back from the original late autumn release date tothe beginning of 2006.

All is not well, though, for the German cinema release ofHerbie Reloaded by Buena Vista International this Thursday (Aug 4) afterit transpired that the film will appear on DVD at the beginning of December,just four months after the theatrical launch (and in time to benefit from theChristmas shopping spree).

Since the US major was not prepared to consider lowerrental charges in view of the shorter "exploitation window" -according to one German press report, the Cinestar chain had offered a 44% cut,while BVI held firm at 50.4% - three leading cinema chains Greater Union'sCinestar Group, CInemaxx and UCI took the decision to boycott the screening ofthe film and have banished all of the respective trailers and promotionalmaterial from their cinemas.

The Lindsay Lohan-Michael Keaton comedy will apparentlystill be launched on 500 prints as originally planned, but now with a largenumber of smaller cinemas taking the film.