As France prepares for the third stage of its coronavirus outbreak, the impact is already being felt heavily across the entertainment industry.
Of France’s 2000 theaters, 40 are now shuttered in the regions of Oise and the Morbihan, which have been hardest hit by the virus.
The French government banned indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people on Saturday to contain the country’s coronavirus outbreak, which has so far caused four deaths and 204 contaminations as of Tuesday.
So far, events that have been canceled or postponed include the Paris half-marathon, the book fair Salon du Livre, and Juste Debout, a street dance event at the Accordhotels Arena, which is also considering canceling the concerts of Ninho, Tryo, M Pokora and Andrea Bocelli scheduled later this month.
In terms of the impact on theatrical admissions, Eric Marti, general manager for Comscore, said the B.O. in France was already down 25% since the beginning of the year due to a lack in local and U.S. blockbusters. However, a steep 30% decline in attendance on Monday could be attributed to fears linked to coronavirus, he added.
Marti said distributors in France are in despair as they try to anticipate how the public health situation may evolve in coming weeks. Warner Bros. has already announced it will postpone the March 11 release of its French movie “Miss” to September, while Gaumont has also delayed Olivier Marchal’s “Bronx” to open in September.
Coronavirus is also causing some upheaval in the broadcasting arena. A top-ranking executive at France Televisions told Variety that as France is about to reach the third stage of the outbreak, the taping of day-time shows with studio audiences have had to be moved to studios without audience capacities — a major hassle considering half of France Televisions’ programming are shows taped with an audience. TF1 is likely experiencing the same issue.
At least one case has been reported in 12 of the 13 regions in France. If a case emerges in Corsica, the only virus-free region to date, France will have reached the third stage, which restricts nearly all types of large gatherings.
Meanwhile, Laurence Herszberg, who runs Lille-set drama festival Series Mania, said the late-March event will go ahead as planned since it doesn’t fall into the category of gatherings of more than 5,000 people in a confined space. Reed Midem has yet to take a decision regarding MipTV in Cannes, which draws more than 9,000 guests on average.