According to the operators, the overall number of spectators has not dropped, but they are spacing out their outings in dark rooms. “Why do the French go to the cinema less often? asked the CNC at the start of myi, in a survey conducted with the Vertigo institute among a thousand people. Four reasons stand out: the loss of habit (38%), the price of the ticket (36%), the wish not to wear the mask (33%), the preference for watching films on other media (26 %).
1 Too expensive, the place?
Operators freely set this rate. It is perceived as high, because it often exceeds ten euros in city center theaters in mainland France. But between this maximum price and the ordinary price, there is a gap: admission to the cinema amounts on average, according to CNC data, to 6.70 euros, many spectators benefiting from reduced prices, subscriptions… “The place seems expensive, whereas it is much less so than for other cultural outings. But people compare, in their evaluation, to the offers of the platforms, ”notes Vincent Erlenbach, manager of Utopia in Bordeaux. “We must continue to ramp up on subscriptions and preferential rates for families” recommends François Aymé, boss of Jean-Eustache in Pessac (Gironde) and president of the‘Afcae, French association of arthouse cinemas.
Some suggest modulating the prices according to the number of people, in the manner of what is practiced for concerts: possible discounts in the event of non-filling.
“The price is necessarily a brake in the current context of strong tension on purchasing power. But a drop will only have limited effects, according to Youen Bernard, director of the cinema of Saint-André-de-Cubzac (Gironde). Here, we have been offering reduced rates on Mondays for four years, which remains, despite this, our lowest day. »
The subject is sensitive because the ticket you pay is the small stone on which is built, in large part, the financing of the seventh art. 40% goes to the cinema, 40% to the distributor (Pathé, Disney, Paramount etc), 5%, via VAT, to the State, 1% to Sacem, and 10% to the CNC, to supply the support fund to the whole sector.
2 Too many sessions each week?
“In 2019, we had an average of 25 admissions per session. Now, around 15… Attendance has dropped significantly, and we continue to offer twenty to thirty weekly screenings for each film, notes François Aymé. The rooms are often empty or sparse, which has an operating and energy cost, and penalizes us in terms of images: people say “no one goes to the cinema anymore”. We would benefit from organizing fewer screenings but scheduling them better, at the right time, for the right audience. »
“We would benefit from organizing fewer screenings but scheduling them better, at the right time, for the right audience”
Operators generally share this opinion. Not the distributors, convinced that the more screenings there are, the more admissions there will be for a feature film. However, to obtain the exploitation rights for a film, a theater must sign a contract with the distributor which imposes a minimum number of screenings.
3 Places to transform?
“With streaming, people can see the movie they want, where they want, when they want. But the cinema retains serious advantages: the exclusivity of a large part of the productions, the comfort, the collective dimension. All of this is essential but is no longer sufficient: we need to increase the added value of the room”, considers François Aymé.
What does this “added value” actually look like? According to a few operators surveyed in the region: welcoming premises, a friendly bar or café, a sustained offer of conferences, previews, ever more networking with schools, works councils, leisure centres, a relationship embodied, warm with the public, which goes through the council. “A bit like in a good bookstore”, we note at Utopia. “People have to be happy to be at the cinema”, sums up François Aymé.