Viruses and streaming platforms: the disaster scenario for French cinema


Closed theaters and Netflix triumphing: French cinema is experiencing a catastrophic scenario, to the point that some are wondering about the ability of the “French model” to recover after the health crisis. France is at the forefront of film producers and its auteur cinema shines thanks in particular to a complex financing system, involving TV channels and a redistribution of revenues in cinemas in favor of creation.

Unique in its scale, this system has been shaken up by developments in the sector. And this year, between closed theaters, filming subject to the vagaries of the virus, and the triumph of platforms like Netflix, the fate persists. “The situation is unprecedented and dramatic“Expressed concern to AFP Pierre Jolivet, the president of ARP (which brings together authors, directors and producers), for whom it is necessary”protect film catalogs and cinemas as strategic assets in wartime“.

All feel that they are living “a crucial moment in the history of cinema», Summed up the filmmaker Radu Mihaileanu, at the opening of the film meetings of this organization, the profession’s first rally to be held, by videoconference, since the reconfinement. From the first wave, the government placed the sector under financial drip, with tens of millions of euros. Then set up a guarantee system for filming to resume.

On Thursday, the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot renewed her support: “The decision to keep filming was essential, and we will have to mobilize in particular to ensure that the reopening of theaters is accompanied by a diversified range of films.“. Above all, the Minister hopes very soon to finally set in stone the last details of a much-awaited dossier: the transposition of a European directive that will make it possible to make the giants of online video contribute to the financing of creation, such as the channels. of TV.

The idea is that Netflix and other Amazon Prime invest 20 to 25% of their national turnover in European and French creation. A windfall for the defenders of “cultural exception”, whose other sources of funding are more uncertain than ever. For weakened French actors, who again attracted a record 213 million spectators last year, the time is no longer to shun platforms. Who did not wait to show their appetite for the French market. They no longer hesitate to directly buy films that have already been shot, such as Bronx, detective film high in testosterone by Olivier Marchal, released at the end of October on Netflix. Depriving them of a theatrical release.

It is now necessary “integrate new American entrants” all in “preserving one of the largest cinema networks in the world», Underlined the director Laure de Clermont Tonnerre. The stake is European and goes beyond the economy, because the cinema in room, especially independent, makes it possible to “decompartmentalize“And get everyone out of”his social bubble», Underlines the producer Carole Scotta, whose company Haut et Court released in October Drunk, a remarkable film by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg.

And “there is an emergency, otherwise we are going straight into the wall», Sums up producer Sidonie Dumas. Managing Director of Gaumont, she has a front row seat to describe the berezina in the sector: producing and then releasing a film becomes a “Chinese puzzle“. Reason for hope, before the reconfinement, the public gradually returned, and some films have worked well. As Goodbye Cons, a comedy by Albert Dupontel, which exceeded 700,000 admissions. But the momentum was shattered by the new theatrical closure, just a week after the release. “We will take it out, but we don’t know when or how», Confesses Sidonie Dumas, distraught.

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