“The filmmakers come back from it”, says Michèle Halberstadt

From month to month, attendance at dark rooms remains 25 to 30% lower than it was before the Covid. This trend…

From month to month, attendance at dark rooms remains 25 to 30% lower than it was before the Covid. Can this trend still be reversed?

In recent weeks, the figures have been better and encouraging, thanks to the successes of “November”, “Simone”, “L’Innocent”… “Revoir Paris”, “Les Enfants des autres”, “As Bestas” have found their audience, even if in the “world before”, they would certainly have done better. But in spite of these few good news, incontestably, one notes a disaffection of a part of the public. It is the over 50s and retirees who, since the Covid, come much less: we did not expect that at all. Young people, on the other hand, continue to go to the cinema, in particular to see the “blockbusters”, which are doing well.

How can French cinema adapt to this lesser demand?

You have to produce differently. More than ever, we have to ask ourselves: do I, producer, distributor, really want to produce or distribute this film? Is this project really bold, ambitious, interesting, different? And, the market having retracted, films will have to cost less. The budget of some feature films is totally excessive. I’m thinking of “Rumba la vie”, a budget of eleven million euros, mainly because there are headliners, and all that for a flop in theaters, or “Vieux Fourneaux 2”, also a failure. despite a considerable budget.

Why such budgets?

Often because well-known actors charge excessive fees. They would be wrong not to do so, since we give them. I produce a lot of auteur films and I’m a bit fed up with certain actors and actresses who are proud to play in these feature films that are often very much in tune with social reality, but who ask us for 2,000 or 4,000 euros per promotion day for their make-up artist, their stylist, a driver… It’s anecdotal, but this behavior is indicative of a disconnect: part of French cinema has not yet taken the measure of the fragility of our economic model.

Should the ticket price be reduced (€6.70 on average according to the CNC)? Cinema operators, for whom it is the main resource, do not agree…

However, I am convinced that this price should be lowered: the fact that Netflix, Amazon and Disney offer subscriptions at ten euros per month has changed our perception of this price. Screenings must be financially more accessible, and cinemas must strengthen their link with the public, by inventing festivals, by multiplying encounters, debates, previews, by ensuring that screenings are more than …

The pleasure of cinema is not limited to the fact of watching a film, it also comes from the sharing and conversation that can follow. Single or two-screen theaters in the provinces hold up better because they have already done the job of asserting themselves as real places to live.

Exhibitors believe that there are too many screenings in the same week for the same film, often at a loss…

It’s a reasoning that I can’t hear: it amounts to sacrificing films rather than helping them find their audience.

How do you explain that the CNC does not organize the states general demanded by a large part of the profession?

I don’t have the explanation. The profession is waiting for these states general but we should not expect everything from the CNC or the State either. We, producers, distributors, exhibitors, must also review our way of working.

We have seen a lot of filmmakers shoot for platforms, does that worry you?

They turned to streaming because they couldn’t finance their projects. But they come back… They have seen that their films end up drowned in the catalog of these platforms. A feature film that is released directly on VOD goes fairly unnoticed. There is no promotion, no touring in the provinces, no meeting with the public… In the life of a film, the theatrical release remains fundamental.

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