Marc-Olivier Sebbagh, General Delegate of the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF) had been waiting for more than six months “to see the eyes of the spectators shining again at the exit of the films “. Having a specific official date was pending, it is now done.
Franceinfo Culture: What is your feeling on this announcement by Emmanuel Macron of the reopening of cultural venues, including cinemas on May 19?
Marc-Olivier Sebbagh: It is obviously a great joy for the exhibitors, and for our spectators who will be able to return to the cinemas, but also for the films which have been waiting for more than a year now. We are so happy to be able to rediscover this link between films and spectators, to renew it, to recreate it. One thinks particularly of the operators of cinemas and their employees who will be able to find their profession again. And finally see the eyes of the spectators shine at the exit of the films.
Don’t you think there is going to be a bottleneck of films, since more than 400 are awaiting release?
There were more problems staying closed than reopening. It’s going to be a gradual reopening, with progressive gauges. Not all films are going to show up on day one, but the releases will be spread out and gradually. The competition authorities have allowed the operators to organize themselves, to allow those who are ready to reopen and others to prepare for it. Of course, a lot of films are pending, but now that we have a date, distributors will be able to choose theirs, on a case-by-case basis, to exhibit them. There will be more films than usual, especially until June 30, but still with a lack of American films, especially the expected blockbusters. This will leave more room for others.
This had already been the case during the deconfinement of summer 2020, right?
There are a lot more films on standby today than during the first lockdown, but there is also still a lot of room. And the very mainstream movies do come out with gauges at 30-50 people. It’s going to be complicated, but the confidence is there. You know, cinema is a flow, it’s not so many films that come out one week after another, things follow one another, it’s a whole chain. Once the flow is interrupted, it is difficult to restart it, but everyone is so keen, the distributors, the exhibitors, the public, that I think we will get there. Now, we have three weeks before the reopening, and exhibitors have the starting signal to recontact the distributors in order to have the films for their theater, that is the main thing.