Kinepolis Group responded Tuesday in a bitter statement to the announcement of new rules imposed on them by the Belgian Competition Authority. Kinepolis must now obtain the Authority’s approval to open new large cinema complexes (+ seven theatres) and is not allowed to operate a new complex within 10 kilometres from theatres already run by them. The Authority’s prior permit is no longer required, however, to open a cinema with 7 theatres or less and less than 1,125 seats.
The revised terms came into effect on Monday. Kinepolis announced Tuesday that it was considering going to court.
In May 2018, the Authority had decided to make things easier, to withdraw the rules of conduct imposed on the Group in 1997, and as of April 2020 to no longer require prior authorization for opening new cinema complexes or taking over existing facilities.
But on 21 November, the Group’s rival took the case to court and the Brussels Court of Appeal cancelled these rules for procedural reasons.
The Authority has decided to change its stand, which Kinepolis does not accept, as it considers the decision to be “incomprehensible.”
“We do not understand in what way this decision supports the client’s interest,” Kinepolis Group’s CEO Eddy Duquenne protested in a press release. “For over 20 years, Kinepolis has been the only company in the world that is not free to expand at home, where the cinema market is still behind neighbouring countries. A competition authority must favour the consumers’ interest and not that of the competitors. We are considering the next steps in this matter.”