Sanitary pass to the cinema: directors, distributors and producers denounce a “murder” – Actus Ciné

The extension of the health pass in cultural places such as cinemas continues to arouse strong reactions. Directors, distributors and producers react to this measure which they consider inappropriate and destructive.

Sanitary pass to the cinema: directors, distributors and producers denounce a "murder" - actus ciné
DR

After Emmanuel Macron’s announcements on July 12 concerning the introduction of the health pass, cinema attendance fell drastically.

In force since July 21, this new restrictive measure has sparked controversy and a virulent reaction from directors, distributors and producers. In the columns of Release, the latter express their deep concerns after the collapse of attendance by nearly 70%.

This is all the more damaging as spectators began to return en masse to theaters after more than 300 days of closure. As an example, Fast and Furious 9 saw its admissions drop by 80% in one week.

Even if the government promises aid to compensate for the losses linked to the introduction of the health pass, some feature films seem to have been sacrificed on this famous July 21.

Thus, the event film by Arthur Harari, Onoda, sensation of the last Cannes Film Festival, released that day, suffered the consequences of the health pass.

“There is an obvious form of bad luck. The day of my film’s release is the day we lose 70% of the average attendance. It is bound to be stunned. Once we said that it was violent, it must see that it falls on everyone’s head, equally – even if no one is quite even in the distribution “, confides the filmmaker, very bitter.

“What I have to say is external to the experience of my film, it is the absurdity of this sanitary pass in the cinemas. It is not proven that these are places of clusters: if there has a place where it could not have been done in my eyes is this one. It is extremely undemocratic brutality, the way it was done. It corresponds to the brutality of this regime, which makes people angry. I have no lessons to teach the government but I think that’s bullshit “, denounces the director.

Why differentiate us from other gathering places? We were murdered, atomized.

TOTAL INJUSTICE

For Michel Saint-Jean from Diaphana, distributor of Titanium, this decision to introduce the health pass without any prior negotiation from July 21 is a total injustice. “Why this disfavourable treatment? Why differentiate us from other gathering places? We were murdered, atomized”, he gets carried away.

“It is incomprehensible and of a contempt, of an indifference that I cannot explain to myself with regard to cinema and culture in general. For Titane by Julia Ducournau, which we have released in 200 copies, the surprise effect of the palm slows down the drop in attendance but it remains a disaster nonetheless because it is a film aimed at a young audience.

However, it is precisely the part of the population that is not the most vaccinated and which, as we see at the box office last Wednesday, is no longer there after the film tripled its admissions the next day. of the palm. We were in the energy of a quirky Cannes festival, Thierry Frémaux fought for it to take place, for the films to remake the event, and the decision falls without a start of consultation, without leaving us at least a window of opportunity. ‘three-week exploitation that would have allowed us to turn around, and everything is shattered “, protests the producer, questioned by Liberation.

For the latter, we must now fear new lags, until the situation clears up. Not so easy, however: “I also have Drive My Car by Ryusuke Hamaguchi which is scheduled for August 18. Spontaneously I would have postponed it but it is too late, the space purchases, the press articles, the mentions in the programs of the art rooms and test, everything is launched so we maintain but this way of changing the rules on sight, without dialogue or explanation, is terrifying “, confides Michel Saint-Jean.

What is brutal for all of us is that our priority is to find the public.

Régine Vial, distributor of Bergman Island and Tom Medina via Les Films du Losange, also denounces the violence of the government’s decision. “What is brutal for all of us is that our priority is to find the audience. All my time and energy, the path that I try to draw, is to make people want to see movies, rediscover a quality of exchange, that the directors go out to meet the spectators.

We wanted to release Bergman Island at the same time as the Cannes premiere because it seemed to me that there would be an event around the film. After being delayed for a year, he had waited a long time to be able to take him to competition. The first week was fine, then the film fell apart in the second week in proportion to the rest of the market. It is a very big difficulty for us because there is a strong investment of exit costs. We didn’t expect it at all “, she laments.

As for Hafsia Herzi, director of Bonne Mère, in theaters since July 21, she denounces a real disaster. “It was very difficult: it had to fall on the day of my film’s release. In the context of the epidemic, we thought that things would slowly return to normal, and that summer was the window safest, while it is not usually the best time for this kind of films. The hardest part is for the distributors, the producers, who took the financial risks – we the authors, we invest ourselves differently “, explains the actress and filmmaker.

I still don’t understand the risk of being in a screening room compared to a lot of other activities.

“I still don’t understand the risk of being in a projection room compared to many other activities for which we do not set the same measures. Once again, we do not feel at all considered. After the premiere in Cannes, I continued to accompany my film, yesterday in Nancy, the day before yesterday in Metz. There are a few people, but the theater operators tell me that they are at the end of the roll, and some want to close. It’s crazy that there are police checks when you think that cinema and culture are supposed to be fun, an escape. “, she says.

For Nicolas Anthomé, producer of Onoda, the sanitary pass is pure political communication, a method of manipulation to stress the French. “If you do not vaccinate en masse, you will no longer have a life, and we will show it to you from tomorrow: you will no longer go to the cinema without a health pass.

I don’t like the expression, but it has become a mental burden for the public: to have the right papers, to take a test, to show things at the door. For Onoda, it’s very difficult to estimate the loss. If we look at the overall decline in the market, there is evidence to suggest that we have lost at least half of what it would have done. What is certain is that it was the worst day to go out. “

AVOIDING RESTRICTIONS

However, some cinemas have decided to juggle the rules of the sanitary pass by offering reduced-gauge screenings or antigenic tests carried out on site.

For example, at the Compiègne multiplex, tests are offered free of charge until mid-August, four days a week, including weekends, in a private space in partnership with a local pharmacy. “We wanted a solution even for sessions with a mandatory pass, so as not to leave anyone on the side of the road”, explains its CEO, Laurence Meunier at the microphone of France Info.

For Loïc Arnaud, responsible for the management of the Majestic cinema in Lille, “It’s a disaster. In spite of a rich programming, we make days with 200 or 300 spectators, whereas we easily make the double in normal times. We are in tense flow in terms of personnel whereas the pass requires spending two to three times as long to edit a ticket “.

While Aya and the Witch has been postponed to a later date due to these restrictive measures, it is rumored that the highly anticipated Eiffel (August 11) could also be postponed. We can therefore expect further lags in the coming weeks if a viable solution is not found.

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