Paris’ The Louvre: 120 Productions in 2015

Legendary museum will host a Warner Bros. production in 2016

Joelle Cinq-Fraix - Louvre
Photo by Martin Dale

PARIS — Child of the French Revolution, the Louvre is considered to be the world’s first museum, intimately linked to the spirit of the Enlightenment.

Housing works that are over 7,000 years old, the museum also has a markedly modern spirit, epitomized by the glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei, inaugurated in 1989, that had an immediate impact on the number of visitors, which were previously one-to-two million visitors per year and in 2015 stood at 8.7 million.

Cinema has played an important image in promoting the image of the Louvre around the world, made evident after “The Da Vinci Code” lensed in the museum in 2005.

In 2008, the museum’s management board decided to make the museum much more film-friendly and created a special unit dedicated to managing productions inside and outside the museum, which is run by Joelle Cinq-Fraix.

Before 2008, on average the Louvre hosted one feature film every two years, but since the film unit was created around four-to-five films shoot there every year.

The space managed by the Louvre includes the museum’s interior and exterior and also the Tuileries Gardens. Filming inside the museum is normally only possible between Monday evening and Wednesday early morning, since the museum is closed on Tuesdays. Typically, a feature film will concentrate its entire shoot in the Louvre within this time interval.

Shooting in the exterior, especially in the Tuileries Gardens, is easier to accommodate at other times, and around 50% of productions are hosted in the gardens, which is how the museum managed to host a total of 120 productions in 2015, including features, shorts, TV fiction, documentaries, commercials and music videos.

The main fiction productions in 2015 included Eric Rochant’s spy series, “The Bureau” and Europa Corp’s “The Lake.” For 2016, a major feature film is planned with Warner Bros., whose title cannot be disclosed at present and an advertising film for a leading American brand.

The Louvre is one of France’s most emblematic monuments and symbolizes the spirit of the modern era ushered in by the French Revolution. “We are Paris. We are France. We are Europe. We are the world,” suggests Cinq-Fraix.

Although dedicated to preserving the past, the museum is also extremely forward-looking, as indicated by the name of its management plan – Louvre 2040.

The Louvre’s management believes that cinema plays a key role in disseminating the museum’s image around the world. Cinq-Fraix emphasizes the example of Luc Besson’s 2010 production, “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec,” which clocked up over 10 million admissions in China.

Cinq-Fraix reveals that the Louvre has excellent relations with Luc Besson. When she learned that the script for “Lucy” included a reference to the greatest productions representing the human spirit, she suggested to Besson that he film the Louvre’s pyramid and he accepted.

In line with its pro-film policy, the Louvre also launched a co-production fund in 2009 aiming to produce three feature films in total. Two films have been co-produced to date: Sokourov’s “Francofonia,” which recreated the atmosphere of the Louvre during the Nazi occupation in 1940, shot in the museum in 2014 and Tsai-Ming Liang’s “Visages” which was filmed in 2008-2009. On both occasions the films spent around one month in the museum’s spaces.

Cinq-Fraix is very upbeat for productions in 2016. “We’re convinced that the increase in the TRIP system will increase demand from foreign productions wanting to film in the Louvre. We want our image to travel around the world and we’re dedicated to hosting productions in the best possible manner.”