The US majors in Argentina are facing an escalation of print production costs that is forcing them to dramatically reduce their local print runs.

There is even talk of some form of strike by US majors in Argentina, where they are obliged to process their prints in a local laboratory, Cinecolor - which holds a virtual monopoly, at prohibitive costs.

However, now a rival lab started up by former Cinecolor executive Fernando Huberman, will soon surface to break Cinecolor's monopoly.

Both indie and major distributors were hard hit when the peso devaluation tripled the cost per print to $1,200 18 months ago.

"The value of these prints is in dollars but we recoup our costs in pesos," said Francisco Cetinic, sales manager of Columbia TriStar. In addition, advertising costs have gone up by 75%.

As a result, many distributors have reduced the number of prints per film. Columbia TriStar's Anger Management, which is slated for release on May 8th in Argentina is likely to go out on 60 prints instead of the 100 it would have warranted in better times.

Miramax' Gangs Of New York went out on 28 prints instead of 60 - 70 prints. Adaptation was released on 10 instead of 40 prints.

It is doubtful that the majors and indies will agree to stage a strike together. According to one observer, if the majors decide to cancel or postpone their releases as a form of protest, the indies would actually benefit from it as the strike would free up screens for independent and homegrown product.