First selections are Potiche [pictured], Le nom des gens and The Social Network.

French exhibitor UGC is promising audiences “More movies. More time to watch them” with a new initiative of catch up screenings.

Guy Verrecchia, UGC’s CEO, said: “Screens are so overcrowded in France, there are so many releases every week - up to 17 in Paris sometimes - that even good movies can be removed from screens before they have a chance find their audience. These films need more time, that’s why we imagined these catch up screenings.”

In France, which had nearly 600 movies released theatrically in 2010, capturing an audience’s attention gets really risky if you’re not releasing a blockbuster and if you don’t have a big marketing budget. As Verrecchia sums up: “We face here a situation where some movies try to find their audience. And when it works, when critical response or word of mouth are good, the audience try to find the movies, but sometimes it’s too late, the films have already been removed from screens.”

The first movies to be selected for these catch up screenings are François Ozon’s Potiche, Michel Leclerc’s Le nom des gens and Oscar hopeful The Social Network. There will be a special little red logo to point them out in select theatres.

Those films certainly weren’t flops upon their original release — Potiche sold 2.3m tickets — but the thought is that they can welcome even more admissions on re-release.

This new service is already available this week in selected theatres: UGC George V, Ciné Cité Les Halles and Orient Express in Paris, and UGC Ciné Cité Etoile in Strasbourg. If the move is successful, it will roll out to more UGC theatres across the nation. Digitalisation of UGC’s circuit, which will be finished by the end of 2011, can help such a plan.