Country Focus: France
Changes to distribution windows
by Fabien Lemercier
07/07/2009 - After difficult negotiations, the majority of French film industry professionals yesterday signed an agreement related to new distribution windows, i.e., staggering distribution acros different media, after a film’s theatrical release.
Pay-as-you-go DVD and VoD (video on demand) releases are now permitted four months after the start of theatrical distribution, compared to the previous six months and 33 weeks, respectively. It will even be possible to reduce this period to three months for features "that have garnered less than 200 admissions by their fourth week on release in theatres".
For film distribution on pay TV networks, the period has been reduced from 12 to ten months after theatrical release, and from 24 to 22 months for the second window. Meanwhile, unencrypted networks will be able to show works 22 months after their theatrical release (compared to a previous 24 months) if they are co-producers and 30 months after (compared to a previous 36) is they have simply bought the film.
Finally, release on subscription VoD will start 36 months after theatrical distribution and free VoD after 48 months.
Binding for two years and tacitly renewable for a period of one year, the agreement has been signed by the FNCF (National Federation of French Cinemas), FNDF (National Federation of Film Distributors), APC (Film Producers Association), SPI (Independent Producers Union), UPF (Film Producers Union), API (Independent Producers Association), SRF (Society of Film Directors), TF1, France Télévisions, Arte, Canal +, M6, Orange, SFR and the Video on Demand Publishers Union.
It should be noted that the ARP (Civil Society of Writers-Directors-Producers), SACD (Society of Authors and Dramatic Composers), French Telecom Federation and SEVN (Digital Video Publishers Union) chose not to sign the text. The ARP complained in particular about the lack of attention paid to the issue of offering legal film downloads on the Internet.