French cinemas limit breakage in 2021

(AFP) – Roller coasters and a happy ending: French cinemas have reconnected with the public at the end of the year 2021, at the end of which they limited the breakage and attracted nearly 100 million spectators.

Despite the pandemic, cinemas recorded 96 million admissions over the year, according to figures released by the National Center for Cinematography (CNC).

An increase of 47% compared to 2020, but very far from the 213 million admissions in 2019, the last year before the Covid, which marked a record in more than half a century.

But the figures are difficult to compare from one year to the next: in 2021, cinemas remained closed until May 19, then subject to gauges and curfews, and finally to the presentation of the sanitary pass.

On the only months of opening, the decline in attendance is only a quarter (-23%) compared to the same period of 2019, notes the CNC. And above all, “the dynamic of recovery was accentuated at the end of the year”.

The year even ended in fireworks, carried by the performance of Spiderman, whose latest adventures, “No Way Home”, released on December 15, took the lead in the annual ranking.

In December alone, attendance at cinemas is “close to normal”, notes the CNC.

At the international level, France seems to be doing well, with the drop in attendance “the least important among the five major European countries”, according to data from the specialist company Comscore, cited by the CNC. The decline “is also less significant than that observed in the United States”.

– Kaamelot and Spiderman –

In detail, the year was marked by a performance by French cinema (4 admissions out of 10), drawn by “Kaamelot premier segment”, “BAC Nord” and “Les Tuche 4”.

American films (with the locomotives Spiderman, James Bond and “Dune”) attract a little more, but the gap is one of the smallest observed in the last ten years.

“A positive effect of the crisis” emphasizes to AFP Magali Valente, director of cinema at the CNC, but nothing yet allows to say that it will be sustainable.

These figures are a relief for cinemas, which admit having been supported by the public authorities during the pandemic, but still endured “a difficult second year” according to the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF).

They describe a year on a roller coaster: after 138 days of closure, a “Film Festival” which had its best result for five years, then a spectacular drop in attendance after the introduction of the health pass, and an end of year described as “exceptional”.

In the end, the FNCF is pleased that the “spectators (have been) more loyal than ever to indoor cinema”, and a “younger and more popular” audience.

The bottling of films, so dreaded by the professionals, did not take place, underlines Comscore: “there was no phenomenon of congestion”, in spite of the return of the American studios.

However, attendance is more concentrated than before the pandemic on the biggest films: the first thirty titles represented one in two entries, notes Comscore.

A figure that reflects the concern of some professionals that films less mainstream will no longer manage to come out of the shadows of big productions. Very numerous at the same time with the posterior, certain French “intermediate” films thus walked on the feet.

“We remain attentive so that all the films can meet their public”, assured the president of the CNC Dominique Boutonnat, hoping to lead to a “regulation” around this subject “during the first quarter”.