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Swiss cinemas have accused retailers of eating into box-office takings by selling imported DVDs of films before they end their run on the big screen.

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The film industry, which argues that the practice is illegal, says it will not hesitate to take offenders to court.

According to ProCinema, the umbrella organisation of Swiss cinema operators and film distributors, ticket sales fell by SFr22 million ($17 million) last year to SFr240 million.

Roger Chevallaz, a lawyer representing the interests of the film industry, said DVD rental and retail stores were partly to blame for the decline in box-office revenue.

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Chevallaz said anonymous checks had revealed that a number of retailers were routinely selling DVDs of films still on at the cinema.

“We think that up to 20 per cent of revenue [at the box office] has been lost because of these DVD imports,” he said.

Under the terms of a revised law which came into force on April 1, imported DVDs of films slated to open in Switzerland cannot be sold or rented prior to or during their run on the big screen.


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