Struggling French Cinema Sector Calls for Additional Aid

© Le Grand Rex Paris

The French Cinema Federation (FNCF) is calling on the nation’s government to provide additional aid to its struggling cinema sector. Movie theaters have struggled to find traction in the market since being allowed to reopen on June 22, with a lack of Hollywood product compounding existing public concerns on returning to theaters.

Most recently, the iconic Le Grand Rex cinema in Paris announced it would close its doors through most of August due to declining admissions. “We tried everything by reopening with retrospectives; some of them worked and some of them sold out,” says Alexandre Hellmann, owner of Le Grand Rex. “But it is becoming difficult to innovate and offer other programming series to the public, especially without having access to Disney and Fox repertory titles. We cut back by starting our showtimes at 4 p.m., closing some auditoriums, and rotating our teams weekly—but the public hasn’t come. I waste less money shutting down than asking my teams to come over and do nothing. It’s demoralizing,” says the operator.

Domestic titles haven’t been able to take advantage of the gaps created by a lack of Hollywood films, with some national films going straight to VOD instead.

The FNCF is asking for financial aid from the country’s cultural sector to help offset some of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Boxoffice Pro France, attendance at French cinemas is down by 70 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

In this context, the FNCF is calling an aid package for cinemas “absolutely necessary,” asking that the government “in an extremely urgent manner, undertake a strong and ambitious act of financial aid for cinemas to revive a cultural economy unique in the world by its level of attendance, the diversity of its programming, and, above all, a driving force for public morale and economic vitality at the heart of all regions .”

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