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CINEMA – Dark theaters try to attract as many people as possible, but the pandemic has decided otherwise. Since the establishment of health pass in French cinemas on July 14, the public is no longer there despite the release of successful films like Fast & Furious WhereKaamelott.
Despite the gloomy weather that could have motivated fans to go to the cinema, the cinemas did not fill up. From the first week of the introduction of the health pass, the fall was vertiginous for all films, even for the most anticipated. “Kaamelott had previewed before the introduction of the pass and this had garnered more than 300,000 admissions. But the next day, the film made three times fewer admissions throughout France ”, affirms to HuffPost Charline Baudry-Biancarello, Deputy Marketing Director of CGR Cinémas. For its third consecutive week, the film by Alexandre Astier nevertheless cumulates nearly 2 million entries.
“Fast and furious” very impacted
Apart from the major French releases, there was also the highly anticipated Fast & Furious 9. The American blockbuster did not even manage to reach 2 million admissions while the previous films achieved much higher scores. Fast & Furious 8 had also approached 4 million admissions. “We lost 90% of our admissions on the Wednesday following the film’s release, and over a week the drop was 60 to 70%”, explains to HuffPost Xavier Albert, Managing Director of Universal Pictures France. “This is one of the films most affected by the health pass in France, because it is normally a young audience who will see Fast & Furious”.
The start was nevertheless satisfactory on July 14: “We were targeting 3 to 4 million admissions, which is a very significant loss for the franchise,” he says. But the distributor was unable to withdraw the film from theaters in time: “I heard the news of our president when i was at Cannes film festival and there was nothing we could do unfortunately. You could only see what was going to happen, ”says the managing director. “The films have to come out anyway, we have one per week on average and we can’t keep them in stock.”
A drop in attendance of 50 to 70%
Another highly anticipated film also disappointed the French box office. It is Black widowdistributed by Disney and which achieved just over 1.5 million admissions for its fourth consecutive week in theaters. A disappointing score for a release that could certainly have reached more than “4 million admissions” in the middle of summer, according to Charline Baudry-Biancarello. The film Jungle Cruise, which also belongs to the big-eared company, hasn’t taken off either. In two weeks, only half a million people made the trip for Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.
Alongside these films, it was also the cinemas that were unable to achieve the expected turnover. Summer is rarely conducive to big releases, but the reopening of cinemas after the 3rd confinement had motivated distributors to put them in theaters in June. “It’s a special summer, because it’s not a good season for big French productions like OSS 117 and Kaamelott, and they are the ones who saved the box office ”, explains Charline Baudry-Biancarello.
Despite the surprising entries of French films compared to American blockbusters, theaters still struggle to attract crowds. “In the CGR cinemas we noticed a drop in attendance of around 70% over the first week when the health pass was imposed”, confirms the deputy marketing director of CGR Cinémas. “After 4 weeks of health pass, we have a loss of about 50% on good days compared to last summer”. It remains to be seen if the public will return gradually thanks to the accelerating vaccination and if the distributors will not make the decision to postpone their releases to the next school year.
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