LOIC VENANCE via AFP
Illustrative photo taken on March 14, 2021 in a cinema in Nantes, during an action for the reopening of theaters
MOVIE THEATER – ” We are concerned every month since our reopening ”, confided to us an operator. The figures of room attendance this summer will unfortunately not reassure the world of cinema. With an estimated balance of 14.06 million admissions in July and 10.66 million admissions in August, the counters are still 25% to 30% lower than in 2019, which preceded the pandemic.
Summer had however started on a note of hope with the full box of the Film Festival, which recorded at the beginning of July its attendance record over the last five years. But two months later, it is clear that for theaters the curve is still not rising again. Less ” catastrophic ” that ” some predicted it », the balance sheet of the summer is « not terrible », concedes to the Parisian Marc-Olivier Sebbag, General Delegate of the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF).
” The summer has not been good », blows to the daily Éric Marti, director of Comscore and specialist in box office analysis, who points out that there is ” one million less admissions ” compared to “ summer 2021, however difficult because of sanitary measures “. A figure confirmed by CNC study, published this Tuesday, September 6. The Cinema and Moving Image Center estimates the drop at 1.4% compared to July 2021, and even 5.6% fewer spectators compared to August 2021 when the health pass was in force.
Throughout the summer, The HuffPost looked at the reasons that explain this lack of interest from the French, the new realities that theaters have to face and also the solutions that they are trying to put in place. Because behind the glitter that the prestigious festivals of the Mostra de Venise and Deauville, which are held these days with a large number of stars, put in our eyes, it will soon become urgent to save the cinema soldier.
Cinema, TV, streaming… Where the French prefer to watch movies
According to a Yougov poll conducted for The HuffPost at the beginning of July, 43% of French people questioned said they had not gone to the cinema since May 2021, the month which marked the lifting of restrictions in places of culture. If the youngest (18-24 years old) are those who have returned the most to dark rooms, the proportion of those who shun them exceeds 50% among those over 55 years old.
38% of French people confirm that they have changed their habits since the Covid crisis, going less or not at all to the cinema. Movies, it is now on television that they prefer to watch them for 38% of them – a proportion which is around 50% for those over 55 years old. Another third (32%) prefer one (or more) streaming platforms.
Streaming platforms don’t just appeal to young people
And contrary to popular belief, these changes in habits concern all age groups of the population. Netflix, Disney +, Amazon Prime, Apple Tv +, or even MyCanal… The use of streaming platforms has become widely democratized in France among all targets.
Following our call for testimonials, readers over 50 told the HuffPost why they prefer small screens to large ones. All of them first mention overpriced cinema tickets, before evoking the richness of the catalogs – with the advantage of alternating short and feature film formats.
Will the absence of a blockbuster in August make things worse for theaters?
Blockbuster releases have acted as lifelines for French theaters since the start of 2022. The successes of films like Top Gun or Jurassic World have allowed them so far not to sink. And these are the same feature films that kept theaters going all summer, since Top Gun, Minions 2 and Jurassic World form the top 3 entries.
And while blockbusters are filling up, French productions are struggling like The Year of the Shark and its 120,000 entries, or Happy Retirement 2 with less than 350,000 admissions (against 1.2 million for the first part). ” It looks like we’ve seen since October of last year: a stop-and-go movement, with films working, then slowing down, in waves, with no real continuity. “, completes the director of ComScore at Parisian.
Is this old film the example to follow to bring people back to the cinema?
The best jams are made in old jars. The mother and the whore of Jean Eustache, classic of the french cinema released in theaters, exceeded 30,000 admissions after a month of release. The company Les Films du Losange, to whom we owe the restoration of this work which appeared for the first time on the screens in 1973, is delighted with this. ” This is truly one of the most important releases of the last ten years. », assures us one of its producers, Charles Gillibert.
A solution to bring back the spectators who have abandoned the rooms or to attract another target of cinephiles? Why not. ” If the re-releases of heritage films generate so many admissions, that will give something,” anticipates Chloé Delaporte, teacher-researcher in socioeconomics of cinema and audiovisual. ” It can bring back moviegoers, comfort those who continue to go there and, perhaps, thanks to this different marketing, attract people to theaters who don’t usually go there to see classics. »
See also on The HuffPost: In Rome, part of the Cinecitta cinema studios destroyed by flames