UGC has agreed to put the sale of its highly controversial subscription card - UGC Illimite - on hold from May 9 until the French competition council decides whether it is anti-competitive. The move follows a request by French culture minister Catherine Tasca (Screendaily, April 25).
For FFr98 per month - roughly equivalent to two screenings in a Paris theatre - the card gives unlimited access to all films screened by UGC. The promotional effort has been staunchly opposed by independent exhibitors, who argue they cannot compete at such a low rate. Tasca stepped in April 26, calling for the competition council to intervene.
UGC is arguing that the card is intended to build customer loyalty and not to "steal" spectators from independent and arthouse venues. The latter may even benefit from it, claims UGC, as card-holders will have more money to spend on films which are not screened at UGC sites.