Movie traffic jam on May 19: distributors can’t agree

Fierce competition in perspective: more than 450 French and international feature films have been awaiting screening since October 2020. The large groups refuse the idea of ​​a calendar to regulate the release of films.

While the reopening of cinemas, scheduled for May 19 in France according to fill gauges of 35%, is fast approaching, it is impossible for distributors to agree on a film release schedule until the end of 2021. 450 feature films -French and international films have however been awaiting screening since October 2020 and 36 others are due to return to theaters. Some films risk being sacrificed on the altar of free competition.

A meeting, scheduled by videoconference on the evening of Wednesday 5 May, was to make it possible to find an arrangement. The national cinema center (CNC) had overseen the project and the competition authority had, exceptionally, given its agreement, on April 16, for the establishment of a schedule decided between the distributors in order to face the bottling of films. But if the union of independent distributors (SDI) and united European independent distributors (DIRE) were present, as well as more modest and independent companies, most of the “big ones” did not even open their computer for the occasion.

Absence of the main distributors

According to the newspaper The world , and although some of its members participated solo in the negotiations, the National Federation of Film Publishers (FNEF) was not represented at the said meeting. And for good reason: the multiplicity of companies that it brings together – both independent and large groups such as Pathé films, UGC Distribution, Gaumont, MK2 Films or Studiocanal, but also the French subsidiaries of Hollywood studios except Disney – naturally creates internal dissensions preventing a position taken.

The large American groups have also abandoned the invitation, especially as the decisions surrounding the distribution of films are taken directly from Los Angeles. Most distributors have already started announcing the release of films via social media. It is out of the question to review their copy. The few present, such as Gaumont or Studiocanal, said they did not wish to sign a regulatory agreement.

Faced with so much hostility, the CNC asked the independents to survey their members. But what is the point of forming an agreement if the main broadcasters are not in the game? The situation is all the more delicate as the Cannes Film Festival, scheduled for July 6 to 17, also provides for a flood of films on the big screen.


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