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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Easycinema 'future in doubt'
The cinema opened in Milton Keynes last month
The UK's first no-frills cinema has said it could be forced to close if it cannot get access to blockbuster films, according to a report.

Easycinema has admitted its future is under threat as it is unable to get "first run" movies from UK distributors, said film trade paper Screen Daily.

The company, run by Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, opened its first cinema in Milton Keynes last month, offering seats from as little as 20p.

Although it secured previously released titles such as the first two Harry Potter films, it has been unable to agree on a formula to show the big blockbusters - such as The Matrix Reloaded - as soon as they hit the screens.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Mr Haji-Ioannou accuses distributors of operating "a cartel"
"If we have to continue in the same situation where we are blanked out by the distributors it is not a sustainable business model," Easygroup spokesman James Rothnie told the paper.

The company wants to pay distributors a flat rate in return for being able to show first run films for an agreed period.

But it says it has met resistance from the main film distributors - Columbia Tristar, Warners, Universal Paramount, Fox and Disney - whom it accuses of operating a cartel.

Easycinema says it has instructed its lawyers to discuss the issue with the Office of Fair Trading and is preparing to present its case to anti-competition authorities in Brussels, the paper added.

Warners, Fox and Columbia declined to comment to BBC News Online, while Universal and Disney were not immediately available.

Last week, Mr Haji-Ioannou spoke about the company's difficulties at the Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee inquiry into the British film industry.

Cinema Paradiso it ain't
23 May 03  |  UK

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