After being shuttered for almost three months, France’s movie theaters will be allowed to reopen on June 22, France’s prime minister Édouard Philippe said in a televised address on Thursday.
Philippe said cinemas will be permitted to reopen everywhere across France on June 22 (or June 24 since releases are scheduled every Wednesday in the country), while restaurants, bars and gardens will reopen on June 2. Exhibitors will have just under four weeks to prepare for the restart and coordinate accordingly with distributors. Jocelyn Bouyssy, managing director of CGR Cinemas, France’s second-largest cinema circuit, said most exhibitors in France were expecting a reopening in early July and will hardly have any movies to show during the first week of relaunch.
Meanwhile, French exhibitors have drafted health guidelines for welcoming moviegoers, which were submitted to the health minister last week for approval. Some of the guidelines include capping admissions to 50% of auditorium capacities. The resulting protocols will determine how many distributors will be willing to have their movies released when cinemas reopen, and will ultimately be crucial to making people comfortable with the idea of returning to movie theaters.
“It’s great news that we can reopen on June 24, even though it leaves us less time than we thought, but we absolutely need to know what the conditions will be,” said Bouyssy, who added that CGR Cinemas’ 70 theaters will be selling tickets at €5 instead of an average €7 during the first two weeks to jump-start their activity.
Starting in July, French exhibitors will be relying on the releases of “Tenet,” “Mulan” and “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” to lure patrons. The French film slate, meanwhile, will include a couple of movies that were playing when cinemas closed, notably “How to Be a Good Wife” starring Juliette Binoche, Gabriel Le Bomin’s “De Gaulle” and “Mama Weed” with Isabelle Huppert. Bouyssy said he hoped more distributors will play ball and schedule their films in the early weeks of reopening.
During the lockdown, France’s National Film Board tweaked the windowing policy to allow films whose release had been halted or canceled to launch on transactional VOD. The CNC also shortened the transactional VOD window — normally set at four months — for movies that recently hit theaters.
France boasts more than 2,000 cinemas and ranks as Europe’s biggest theatrical market in terms of admissions. France’s box office broke a 50-year record with 213 million ticket sales in 2019.