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

On a month-to-month basis, darkroom attendance remains 25 to 30% lower than it was pre-Covid. This tendency…

On a month-to-month basis, darkroom attendance remains 25 to 30% lower than it was pre-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, although in the “world before” they would certainly have done better. However, despite this few good news, one undeniably notices dissatisfaction among a section of the public. It is the over 50s and pensioners who, since Covid, come much less: we did not expect that at all. Young people, on the other hand, continue to go to the cinema, especially to see the “blockbusters”, which do well.

How can French cinema adapt to this reduced demand?

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

Why such budgets?

Often because well-known actors charge too high fees. They would be wrong not to, since we give them. I produce a lot of auteur films and I am a little tired of certain actors and actresses who are proud to play in these feature films, which are often very much in line 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 is anecdotal, but this behavior is indicative of a disconnect: a part of French cinema has not yet measured the fragility of our economic model.

Should the ticket price be reduced (€6.70 on average according to CNC)? Cinema operators, for whom it is the main resource, disagree…

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

The pleasure of the cinema is not limited to the fact of seeing a film, it also comes from the sharing and conversation that can follow. Single or double screen theaters in the provinces hold up better because they have already done the work 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 line of reasoning that I can’t hear: it’s tantamount to sacrificing movies instead of helping them find their audience.

How do you explain that the CNC does not organize the states that are generally requested by a large part of the profession?

I don’t have the explanation. The profession is waiting for these states in 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’ve 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 are coming back… They have seen that their films end up drowning in the catalog of these platforms. A feature film released directly on VOD goes relatively unnoticed. There is no promotion, no tour in the provinces, no meeting with the public… In the life of a film, the theatrical release is still fundamental.

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