French President Emmanuel Macron announced a potential mid-December re-opening date for the country’s cinemas during a televised address on Tuesday evening, contingent on public health benchmarks being met ahead of time.
Cinemas in France were originally ordered to close by government mandate on March 14 due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. As cases dissipated nationwide, cinemas began to reopen their doors on June 22. By the Fall, however, a second wave of the virus forced movie theaters to close once again on October 30.
Addressing the nation’s cultural sector, Macron thanked those institutions “who held on and were able to innovate and create other connections with their audiences… We need them. Culture is essential to our lives as citizens.”
Most businesses in France will be able to return to operation on November 28. As long as the number of Covid-19 cases is under 5,000 per day and intensive care hospitalizations limited to 2,300 to 3,000, cinemas, theaters, and museums will be allowed to follow suit on December 15, a day ahead of Wonder Woman 1984’s overseas launch on December 16. Should those public health benchmarks fail to be met, cinemas will need to wait until the next reopening cycle of January 20 to reopen under the same benchmarks.
Even if French cinemas do reopen by mid-December, they would still need to adhere to curfew restrictions between the hours of 9 pm and 7 am. Screenings that conclude past the curfew, however, will be allowed to take place as long as the showtime begins before 9 pm. In a joint press release issued ahead the presidential address, French cinema trade bodies FNCF and the private theaters union (SNDTP) had previously emphasized the importance of maintaining 8 pm showtimes, stressing that “an excessively strict curfew that would not allow evening sessions would prevent an eventual reopening.”
France will suspend the national curfew on December 24 and 31 to facilitate limited gatherings during the holiday period. The national curfew rules will be reevaluated, contingent on the same public health benchmarks, ahead of the next reopening cycle of January 20.
“This is great news for the cinemas and theaters that have fought hard over the past two weeks to not be lumped into the restrictions facing restaurants and indoor dining,” FNCF president Richard Patry told Boxoffice Pro France after Macron’s press conference.
“While we remain uncertain about how the epidemic will continue to evolve, there are good intentions in the President’s words for the cultural sector that vindicate our efforts. France remains in lockdown but will be able to count on cinemas and theaters being open when people leave their homes, something we can be proud of.”
“We have registered 25 million admissions between two lockdowns without being responsible for a single cluster of cases,” he said. “We look forward to reopening theaters with a variety of new titles for the holidays, as well as bringing back films whose runs were interrupted by the latest closures.”