Can cinema in theaters recover from the crisis?



► “We must reconnect with the notion of pleasure in cinema”

Yves Sutter, general manager of Cinéville, cinema network in the west of France

“In the conclusions of the study by the National Cinema Center (CNC), certain reasons put forward to explain the drop in attendance are not specific to the cinema. The loss of the habit of going to cinemas, the first reason given by those questioned, is to be linked to a more general disaffection for cultural outings.

→ READ. Cinema: rekindle the desire

Moreover, we do not go to the cinema out of habit, but out of desire. I don’t believe that the ticket price is decisive. Reducing it would first be complicated financially, with the drop in attendance and the increase in the cost of energy and wages. But we also observe that there is no significant difference in attendance between operators who have increased their tariff and those who have not. The fill rate for some more expensive premium rooms is even better.

The desire is above all aroused by the offer: some films are missing. American productions are rarer due to the interruption of filming in 2020 in the United States and the broadcast of some of them on platforms. It will therefore be necessary to wait at least a year before returning to a normal volume.

→ INVESTIGATION. Cannes Film Festival 2022, a resumption against a backdrop of concerns

At the World Exhibition Congress in Las Vegas last month, US studios made it clear that the room was indispensable in economic terms because it creates a value chain. Once released in cinemas, a feature film will be exploited in video, on television, on platforms and possibly in derivative products.

From July, school supplies will be adorned with characters from films shown in theaters and not on platforms. Moreover, the piracy of works online is almost immediate.

As for French films, their quantity is stable because filming has stopped very little, but they do not arouse envy, apart from a few surprise phenomena such as In body Where Retirement home. They suffer from a lack of communication. Distributors, fearful of making fewer admissions, invest less in advertising. As spectators are rarer, they see fewer trailers, the main sources of information on films for a majority of them. It’s a vicious circle.

Recreating desire requires above all a work of communication. The events surrounding the film (presence of the team, debates, etc.) contribute to this. As they cannot be generalized to all screenings, above all they allow the film to be talked about in the local, prescriptive press. The release of the sequel Top Gun, which benefits from a major media and promotional campaign, should stimulate the appetite for cinema: it is by having a good time in the cinema that you want to return there regularly. I am convinced that we will get out of this crisis by reconnecting with the notion of pleasure in cinema! »

►”Cinema has been able to resist crises by transforming itself”

Jean Ollé-Laprune, film historian

“Cinema was barely 2 years old when it experienced its first crisis with the fire at the Bazar de la Charité in 1897. origin of the drama. The cinema then had to show that it was capable of climbing the slope, of getting out of temporary installations and without security.

Another revolution with the arrival of talkies, a veritable earthquake to which the profession was able to respond with astonishing efficiency and speed. In barely more than two years, all of the world’s cinema had taken up talkies, France not being outdone. On the other hand, at that time, the sector was very fragmented, not to say anarchic, with rooms which lived their life… It was during the Occupation, via the censorship of Vichy and the supervision exercised by the Germans (in particular business cards excluding Jewish artists), that the cinema is subject to rules and constraints. Let’s not forget that the Cinematography Center was created by the Vichy regime, even if the idea of ​​regulating and federating the profession had already germinated in 1936, following the Carmoy report.

→ MAINTENANCE. Pierre Lescure: “I believe more than ever in cinema”

If we continue our historical journey, the rise of television caused a serious crisis, with cinema attendance falling by half in about ten years. And, here again, the profession reacted by creating, at the end of the 1960s, multi-screen complexes, allowing a wider exploitation of films: see Borsalino by Jacques Deray, which we marveled at had more than 20 copies in Paris alone… The closure of small cinemas was not painless, but the strategy proved to be successful, accompanied by an increase in ticket prices . It was at this time that the spectator really changed his practice. Gone is the end of the Saturday night outing to see a film (without always knowing which one) always in the same room, in the middle of other attractions, news, singing tours. From now on we are going to see a specific film, and it is besides the flowering of the general public auteur film, signed Claude Sautet or Bertrand Tavernier for example, but also the reign of stars like Delon and Belmondo. The 1970s were in this respect a golden age, also rich in very high quality American cinema.

→ ANALYSIS. 41% of subscribers to a streaming platform go to the cinema less

And as the complexes had made it possible to withstand the triumph of television, the multiplexes and their state-of-the-art technical equipment were, in turn, developed to respond to new competition, that of video, Canal+ and private channels. Today, the consequences of the Covid and the success of the platforms, which capture mainstream auteur films, are a new assault on cinema attendance, and I would be hard pressed to predict whether the situation is temporary or more ” installed”.

What seems certain to me, on the other hand, is that, throughout its history, the cinema has known how to stand up and find renewed impetus by investing both in films and in cinemas. »

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