UPDATED: Filming on French soil will be spared from the nightly curfew that was announced by French president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday and will go into effect on Saturday for at least six weeks. Cinemas, however, won’t receive any exceptions and will need to close accordingly by curfew.
The 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew will be imposed in Paris and eight other cities where the number of coronavirus cases has spiked.
Michel Gomez, the head of the Mission Cinema, a body in charge of coordinating film and TV shoots in Paris, told Variety that the French government has agreed to allow indoor and outdoor filming to take place at night, after 9 p.m. “The government considers filming to be a professional activity, and as a result, cast and crew members will be able to go home from work with a waiver,” said Gomez. The executive said the number of shoots has been skyrocketing in Paris in recent weeks.
“Production activity restarted in early June and has intensified week after week,” said Gomez, who explained that film and TV producers are venturing into shoots in spite of the rise of coronavirus cases because they have established “a very strict sanitary protocol for filming in collaboration with guilds and authorities.”
Another crucial factor behind the upward trend is the fact that producers in France can have access to an indemnity fund of €100 million ($117 million), half of which comes from the French government, and the other half from a pool of insurers. In case a shoot has to be canceled or postponed due to a coronavirus infection, producers are insured up to €1.8 million ($2.11 million) per film and 30% of their production budget.
Under the curfew rules, people without a waiver will not be allowed to be anywhere outdoors from 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and all shops, restaurants and bars will be shut down during those hours. Those who violate the rule will be fined €135 ($158) — the amount of the fine is the same for those who aren’t wearing a face mask.
Meanwhile, film guilds, including those repping distributors and theater exhibitors, as well as people working in the cultural sector, asked the government for a special permit allowing customers to attend evening screenings and events that end after 9 p.m.
But the plea, which was backed by France’s new culture minister Roselyn Bachelot, was rejected by the prime minister Jean Castex on Friday, who said during a presser in Lille that “everyone has to be home at 9 p.m., apart from very precise exceptions.”
“I’m sure that everyone will adapt themselves, including the culture world” which will receive the necessary resources from the government to “withstand the blow,” added Castex.
The curfew is expected to be a large blow for exhibitors and other players in the culture sector as it will cause evening screenings to be axed. Until now, theater exhibitors have been able to keep admissions at an acceptable level in the absence of U.S. blockbusters thanks to a fairly strong pipeline of French films, but local distributors are now considering postponing their film releases.
The slate of anticipated French releases that are currently on ice include “Aline,” Valerie Lemercier’s movie inspired by the life of Celine Dion, which Gaumont plans to release on Nov. 11, as well as SND’s “Kaamelott – Premier volet,” which was previously due to come out on July 29.