France to boost digital conversion

Gov't to spend $167 million on cinema switchover

BRUSSELS — Gaul expects to spend E125 million ($167 million) over the next three years to help cinemas switch to digital projection.

Around 1,000 cinemas are expected to benefit from the aid.

Announcing the figures Wednesday, culture minister Frederic Mitterrand said the subsidy was about recognizing the importance of cinema in French culture.

Public subsidy will cover up to 90% of conversion costs for theaters in small towns and rural areas, plus others expected to get insufficient coin from distributors to make the change.

Distributors’ contribution is a legal obligation in Gaul, but will be small for second-run cinemas and those in less populated burgs.

First bids for funding will be examined mid-October by CNC, the government’s film and TV agency. Special rounds will held for less-frequented and traveling cinemas.

Coin comes on top of existing public support for exhibitors, amounting to around $107 million a year.