Germany’s largest organization of cinema operators, HDF Kino, has issued a statement weighing in on the controversy swirling around Disney’s decision to put Mulan directing onto Disney+ in major markets.
The move has prompted an angry response from international exhibitors. As Deadline reported this week, UK cinema owners called it a “f*ck you to exhibitors”, while one French operator caused a stir with a video of him taking a bat to a Mulan pop-up artwork before telling us his venue wouldn’t be able to last very long without major releases.
Christine Berg, CEO of HDF Kino, has now added her voice to the debate, penning a statement today in which she said distributors and exhibitors need to work together to preserve the future of the industry, and that studios are “playing with fire” by experimenting with PVOD releases. Berg also said that an exclusive theatrical window is “an absolute must”.
Translated from German, the statement reads thus:
“The latest events around the distribution of films and the avoidance of…the cinema show: Here a game is being played with fire and a proven and successful business model is overridden in this crisis. If great films made for the [big] screen are not shown there, the available market opportunities will not be used.
“That is why it is now all the more important to make decisions with foresight and not with short-sightedness. [Cinema] is a 125-year tradition that has more than proven itself and means the greatest possible success for all industry participants. [Releases having] an exclusive window is an absolute must.
“Cinema is a place for storytelling. This is not possible without appropriate film content. If the partners of the German cinemas rely on short-term motivated postponement and evasion tactics, they are not only playing with the future of theaters, but also with the diversity and independence of our entire industry.
“Large films belong on the big screen. Cinema creates an experience that is unique and cannot be replaced by streaming. We therefore firmly believe in the traction of the cinema and look forward to being able to concentrate on the upcoming films. We as the film industry have it in hand to attract visitors and save the diversity of cinemas – and we can do that. When we act together. In partnership and with foresight. ”
HDF Kino reps 600 German cinemas, which is about 80% of the country’s real estate. Unhinged was top at the German box office last weekend, adding $141K for a $744K cume, but the overall market was down 25% in the session, due in part to a lack of new titles.