Sweden's largest exhibitor, Svensk Filmindustri (SF), the exhibition arm of the media giant Bonnier Group, has been refused a licence to establish a multiplex in Norway's third largest city, Trondheim, by local authorities.
The main argument of local politicians is that cinemas run by the municipality better serve the local audience's needs. Exhibition in Trondheim is considered to be an integral part of the city's cultural life and politicians are concerned that SF Kino's (the company's Norwegian exhibition division) planned multiplex would increase the number of Hollywood films screening at the expense of local productions. SF Kino has recently also been refused access by local authorities to Sandnes, the neighbouring town to Norway's fourth largest city Stavanger.
Municipal authorities in Oslo have also expressed concern about SF Kino's multiplex plans in the Norwegian capital, mainly due to the behaviour of the company in Sweden, where its local distribution arm refused to give local blockbusters such as Jalla, Jalla! and Eva & Adam to its main rival, the AMC-owned Heron City Cinemas outside Stockholm.
While both local and foreign private exhibitors have been running movie theatres for decades in other Scandinavian countries, Norwegian municipalities have regulated the number of theatres as well as their ownership structure since 1913. Over 95% of Norwegian cinemas are still under municipal control and Trondheim is no exception, with all cinemas being run by local authorities which are responsible for both licensing cinemas and regulating what they screen. Subsidiaries of several exhibition giants have applied to the municipalities for licences to operate multiplexes in the country. But so far, the expected invasion of private exhibitors has yet to happen.
So far SF has only managed to enter the Norwegian market in the city of Tonsberg. The exhibitor has abandoned a planned takeover of a local site in the city of Asker, while a proposed multiplex in Lillestrom has been postponed due to construction problems.