Paris Attacks Force Theater Closures, High-Profile Screening Cancellations

PARIS — Paris cinemas are going dark after a series of terrorist attacks targeting crowded public locations have raised safety concerns in the French capital. Furthermore, upcoming red-carpet film events — including screenings of Nanni Moretti’s “My Mother” and Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” as well as a weekend press junket and Monday night sneak preview for Natalie Portman western “Jane Got a Gun” — have been canceled for reasons of safety and sensitivity.

“In light of the tragic events in Paris, Monday’s preview screening and filmmaker Q&A for ‘Steve Jobs’ has been cancelled,” a Universal spokesperson said Saturday evening, referring to an event director Danny Boyle was scheduled to attend. “Our hearts and prayers go out to all the victims, families and the people of France during this difficult time.”

The timing of the attacks directly affects a high-profile French pre-release run of Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur,” which was set to open Nov. 14 in Paris’ classy Grand Rex theater a full 11 days before the rest of the world. The screenings would have begun Saturday morning, preceded by an elaborate water and light spectacle — a beloved holiday tradition. Instead, the Grand Rex will remain closed all weekend.

In a live press conference given Friday night while the hostage crisis at the Bataclan concert venue was still unfolding, French president Francois Hollande declared a state or emergency that gives the Minister of the Interior the right to order the temporary closure movie theaters, bars and meeting places of any kind at his discretion. By law, the state of emergency can last for up to 12 days.

Paris’ city hall set the example early Saturday morning by ordering all public institutions to close for the day, an edict that extended to several public cinemas, including the Forum des Images in Les Halles, one of the city’s biggest and most central shopping centers. (Update: The closure has since been extended through Sunday.)

Les Halles is also the location of the theater’s largest megaplex, a 27-screen complex operated by the UGC chain, where screenings proceeded as normal this morning, but have since been canceled for the rest of the day. By midday, major French cinema chains Gaumont Pathe, MK2, and UGC had all announced closures for Saturday.

Generally speaking, the French film industry seemed initially uncertain how to react to the situation, with many theaters initially remaining open Saturday morning. Such venues had already been in a state of heightened security for months, following the targeted killings at Charlie Hebdo newspaper headquarters in January.

French distributor Pretty Pictures took action early Saturday, swiftly announcing the decision to delay indefinitely the release of terrorism-themed thriller “Made in France,” about a journalist who infiltrates a jihadist cell on the outskirts of Paris.

The city’s residents remain jittery and uncertain following the tragic events of Friday the 13th, shocked by the violence but also determined to go on with life, lest the terrorists get their way. The majority of shops appear to be closed, with large chain stores such as Printemps and Galleries Lafayette shutting their doors, though some businesses remain in operation.

Museums and cultural institutions have followed city hall’s command, resulting in the temporary closure of several important events, including the Paris Photo international photography fair that opened Thursday at the Grand Palais expo hall.

Though the emergency state forbids the sort of public demonstrations seen after the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, many have emerged to light candles and show their support. At Place de la Republique, not far from where one of the shootings took place, graffiti artists sprung into action, installing a mural that reads “Fluctuat nec mergitur” — or “Tossed but not sunk,” a Latin expression that accompanies the sailing vessel depicted on the city of Paris’ coat of arms.

 

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