Unlike in Italy and Belgium, French theaters will remain open in spite of a ban on gatherings for more than 100 people, according to a spokesperson for the FNCF, France’s national exhibitors org.
French prime minister Edouard Philippe has banned gatherings for more than 100 people to contain the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. Under the new restrictions, movie theaters will be allowed to remain open on the condition that there are a maximum of 100 people in each auditorium. The same rule will apply to other cultural venues such as theaters.
Although the movie theaters will remain open, exhibitors are pessimistic about box office prospects, considering nearly all releases have been delayed by U.S. studios, including Universal, Disney, Warner Bros. as well as independent French distributors, such as Gaumont, Studiocanal, Bac and Le Pacte.
Memento Films Distribution is one of the only local outfits to have maintained its film release of “The Good Wife” with Juliette Binoche, which came out on March 11 (pictured).
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“We’ll stay open but we have no more films to show. Everyone is postponing their releases, I’m getting calls every 15 minutes — we’re going to have a massive clutter of releases to deal with in September and October,” said Jocelyn Bouyssy, the president of CGR Cinemas, the second biggest multiplex chain in France.
Bouyssy said the box office took a big hit within the last day and is currently roughly 40% down. He anticipates that fewer people will come to the theaters in the next few weeks because of the government’s recommendation to stay home, combined with the fact that there are so few new films available.
French president Emmanuel Macron called for the shutdown of schools and universities on Thursday for an undetermined amount of time. He also called coronavirus the “biggest health crisis that France has known in a century.” The new ban, announced by the prime minister on Friday, has not been dated either.
The previous decree, announced March 10, restricted gatherings to 1,000 people and was timed to expire on April 15.