LONDON — Independent movie theater owners in Germany, who control almost 700 screens, are boycotting Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” as a protest against what they see as punitive booking terms. The film debuted to a massive $201.2 million across 44 international territories this weekend.
The German theaters claim that Disney raised its rental fee from 47.7 percent to 53 percent of ticket sales, according to broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Disney has also cut its contribution to advertising, and done away with advances for 3-D glasses.
“Approaching the industry with these conditions is completely unusual and, for me, a scandal,” said Andreas Kramer from industry lobby group Hauptverband Deutscher Filmtheater.
The indie exhibitors, most of which own theaters in smaller towns, claim that the cost of digitization as well as rising staff and marketing costs may force some of them out of business.
Karl-Heinz Meier of I.G. Nord, which represents theater owners in Northern Germany, added: “We are worried — particularly about Eastern Germany. When prices go up, then we have a serious problem that could force movie theaters to close.”
Other protests could follow. “The new ‘Star Wars’ film is coming out at the end of the year. Disney manages its distribution — things could get interesting,” Meier said.