“We have asked the Minister of Culture and we are asking the government that spectators can return home after 9 p.m. with their ticket”, said Friday, October 16 on franceinfo Marc-Olivier Sebbag, general delegate of the National Federation of French cinemas, while the curfew applies Friday evening at midnight in Île-de-France and in eight other French metropolises. The challenge is to maintain film releases. Otherwise, distributors threaten “to review all of their plans “.
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You fear that people will no longer come to the cinema, that’s why you are proposing an arrangement. What’s your idea?
Marc-Olivier Sebbag: We have asked the Minister of Culture and we are asking the government that spectators can return home after 9 p.m., as announced by the Prime Minister on Thursday for trains and planes. Without this, we could not do a so-called evening session. The last session would be at 6 p.m., it would have to be finished by 8:30 p.m. so that people had time to go home.
Evening screenings, for cinemas, are half of attendance.Marc-Olivier Sebbag, General Delegate of the National Federation of French Cinemas
Half of the spectators come in the evening. It would therefore be dramatic for cinemas in curfew areas, but it would be dramatic for all cinemas in France. Because when distributors release a film, they release it nationally. Which means that if a film has not been released in Paris, you cannot release it in Brittany. So the consequence of not having an evening screening would be that distributors could no longer release films where they would have half of their activity and their potential turnover that would be suppressed.
You seem to have the support of the Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, who asks that the theater or cinema ticket serve as proof, would that also be your idea?
Yes that’s exactly it. We met the minister on Thursday and the theater people did the same. We have exactly the same problem. We interact a lot with the theater community. Cinemas and theaters have the safest, strictest and best applied health guidelines, because the rules are stacked and the spectators are extremely disciplined. Everything is fine. There has never been a cluster identified. If we don’t have this arrangement, theaters and cinemas will close. This post gives the title of the film during the screening, the day that proves that we went to the show etc. The spectators will have their ticket which will be very easy to control for the police and it also allows to spread the return home. Culture must be able to take place in this country and the government must grant us this accommodation for culture. Culture must be allowed to exist and not be the first victim of this curfew which, moreover, is being introduced for health reasons which we fully understand.
Do you think this idea can convince distributors to maintain film releases in the coming weeks?
What they told us is that if there is an evening screening, a movie release is possible.
If there is more at night, they are forced to review all of their plans. And unfortunately, what we have known with American films which – for this reason of the closure of cinemas in the United States – have canceled the release of their films in France, we would know this time with French films. If the cinemas can function more or less normally, if the spectators can come to the evening screening, that changes everything for us. There is a domino effect: during the All Saints holidays, there is no problem since the films have just been released. So the cinema offer is recent. It is even brand new. If I may say so. And it’s very diverse, from movies for kids and action movies, movies for teenage adult audiences. But after a while, in three or four weeks, there won’t be any new films showing. So our problem is medium term, it is not immediate but it is real. Distributors and professionals in the sector will doubt: will a new curfew be implemented? Can we stay on the bill?
In your opinion, the opening of theaters from 8 am, as announced by the MK2 group, could that be a solution too?
It is a modification of the timetable which is not sufficient. Just because you can go to the movies at 8 in the morning doesn’t mean you’re replacing the plan you had to go to the movies with your family or friends at night. So it’s a reorganization, but it’s not a solution.