The streaming service acquired “Pinocchio” from Jean Labadie’s distribution company Le Pacte, which had to cancel the film’s theatrical release on March 18 as cinemas shuttered on March 15 due to the coronavirus crisis.
Le Pacte had spent a large sum in P&A to promote the film on the heels of its world premiere out of competition at the Berlinale. The deal with Amazon Prime is believed to have covered those costs and was approved by right holders. Meanwhile, Le Pacte is still committed to releasing Jean-Paul Salomé’s “Mama Weed,” a crime comedy starring Isabelle Huppert, in theaters later this year.
“Pinocchio” is the second European movie picked up by Amazon Prime from a French company during the shutdown of theaters. Amazon Prime previously acquired global rights to “Forte,” a TF1 Studios/UGC comedy directed by Katia Lewkowicz, which was scheduled to come out on March 18, like “Pinocchio.”
Under the country’s normal release policy, the SVOD window is set at 36 months after the opening in cinemas and it’s highly unusual for a European film that’s been fully financed by local partners to be bought by an SVOD platform in France where exhibitors are particularly powerful.
However, due to the fact that theaters are closed in France during the pandemic, some exceptions are being made.
The National Film Board (CNC), meanwhile, has allowed films that were in French screens on March 15 when theaters closed to come out on straight on transactional VOD and DVD (whose window is usually at 4 months).
While the lockdown will start being lifted in France on May 11, theaters will remain closed and could reopen no sooner than in mid-July, according to Marc-Olivier Sebbag at the FNCF, the national federation for exhibitors in France. Sebbag said the plan currently being discussed will see all theaters across France reopen at the same time.
The FNCF has asked the French government to warn exhibitors a month prior to the anticipated restart date in order to get coordinated.