A funding crisis is threatening the Swedish film industry as a conflict between US distributors and local exhibitors threatens to delay the new Swedish Film Agreement.

The agreement, which is designed to generate money for local productions, is due for renewal at the end of this year, and a number of Swedish movies scheduled for early 2005, now run the risk of being cancelled or postponed as a result.

The cause of the conflict is that, in addition to normal ticket sales, Swedish exhibitors make money on bookings via the internet - revenues which are not passed on to the production fund.

According to the film agreement, which sees government support of $30m (SEK 225M), there is a 10% tax applied on cinema tickets .

While Swedish exhibitors charge an additional fee of $0.65-$1.3 (SEK 5-10) for their internet booking service, these revenues is not included in the film agreement. Last year, 45% of Sweden's major exhibitor SF Bio's 9.5 million admissions were booked online.

US distributors Warner Bros, Columbia Tristar and Buena Vista are now demanding that Swedish exhibitors SF Bio and Sandrew Metronome include their additional service charge revenues from online bookings in the film agreement.

"It's a question of principle," said Peter Jansson, CEO of Warner Bros in Scandinavia. "Of course all the money that cinema visitors pay for their tickets should be included in the agreement."

SF Bio counters by arguing that the service fee doesn't have anything to do with the cinema admission.

Consequently, it has become uncertain how much government support Swedish films will get in the future.

"In the history of the Swedish film agreement, we have never had such a severe situation. We don't know how much money will be available for production and the parties seem to be far from a solution," Anna Boreson, co-ordinator of film politics at the Swedish Film Institute, told ScreenDaily.com.