That’s no: there will be no exemption, even for the key cinema sector. On Friday, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, then the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, rejected a proposal made by the operators of cinemas, directly affected by the curfew from 9 p.m. in 9 French metropolises. The sector had filed Thursday morning a request to the Ministry of Culture to relax the restrictions. In the evening, Roselyne Bachelot announced to share “the feeling of desolation of all the actors of the performing arts and the cinema”. “What they would like is rather to consider that 9 p.m. is not the time you should be at home but, for those who have a ticket for a play or a movie, the time the departure of the room. That seems to me plausible, “noted the Minister of Culture.
This measure, for which the ticket would have served as proof, would have allowed a “simple control by the police [puisque] on a cinema or theater ticket are indicated the place, time and date of the performance “, according to Richard Patry, president of the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF), interviewed by Les Inrockuptibles.
But the idea was therefore rejected Friday on BFMTV by Bruno Le Maire, stressing that “what makes the strength of a rule is its clarity and simplicity”, before adding that “if you start to multiply the exemptions, we are not going to get out of them “. A few hours later, Jean Castex aligned himself with the position of his minister, retorting that the government will deploy “all means (..) to cushion the shock”.
“A decision with serious consequences”
This new government measure to contain the epidemic appears to be “a decision with extremely serious consequences for the cinema industry”, according to the FNCF press release. “With attendance already reduced by 50 to 70% for many months, cinemas will have to do without these screenings which represent more than half of their audience.” Adding to this, the cities affected by the curfew represent 40% of theaters in the territory. To limit breakage, the MK2 group, which has 68 of its 200 screens in Paris, announced that it intended to open its theaters from 8 am “at the usual reduced rate”.
“In addition, by the domino effect, cinemas fear that many films will be deprogrammed, not being able to support such a reduction in their potential market. Theaters in areas not affected by the curfew could then also suffer the consequences by having even fewer films to offer, and especially the most anticipated films, ”according to the FNCF. Already, many feature films, such as American mainstream blockbusters, continue to be deprogrammed.
Faced with an emergency, your government alone decides on the essential and the dispensable
Blatant example of these postponed release dates: the last James Bond, To die can wait initially scheduled for April 8, 2020 was finally postponed to November 11 and then to March 31, 2021 due to the epidemic. Also scheduled for its theatrical release next Wednesday, Peninsula by Yeon Sang-ho, the sequel to Last train to Busan had also seen its release postponed to December 16, 2020 due to the restrictions announced. Finally, the film will be released on October 21 “in solidarity with the entire industry,” announced ARP, the distributing company, on Friday afternoon.
Across the Atlantic, the film industry is also suffering the full brunt of the consequences of the health crisis. In mid-March, between 120,000 and 150,000 of the International Alliance of cinema set workers lost their jobs, according to information from the specialized American site dot.LA.
The cinema industry expresses its anger
The first eight months of 2020 witnessed a significant drop in theater attendance, with a drop of 63.5% compared to the same period last year. As part of the recovery plan finalized at the end of August, the Ministry of Culture announced a recovery plan amounting to 165 million euros for the sector. Of this sum, 50 million euros will be allocated to theater operators at the end of October in order to make up for the losses of operations recorded during confinement.
A plan which, because of the imposed curfew, will “unfortunately turn into an emergency plan to prevent cinemas from closing this time permanently,” said the FNCF press release.
Anger is being felt in the ranks of the industry where this new tightening of the screws is described as a “stab for culture” by the Société des Réalisateurs de Films (SRF). “Since the confinement, six months have passed during which you could have given the means to the public hospital to prepare for this second wave. Today, faced with the emergency, your government alone decides what is essential and the dispensable, in favor of a social life reduced to productive work. We affirm, Mr. President, that culture will always be a ‘good reason’ to circulate “, assures the association, in a statement published on Facebook.