ARP Film Meetings 2022
Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming
"The work of the CNC is not the pursuit of profitability"
Dominique Boutonnat, president of the CNC, has clarified his intentions during a very animated debate about the diversity of creation organised during the 32nd ARP Film Meetings
Set in motion by director Thomas Lilti, co-president of the 32nd edition of the ARP Film Meetings (French Civil Society of Authors-Directors-Producers), who reminded the audience that his first feature film had only registered 3,000 admissions in theatres (before he established himself as a box-office success with Hippocrates [+see also:
interview: Thomas Lilti
film profile] at 950,000 admissions, Irreplaceable [+see also:
film profile] at 1.5 million and The Freshmen [+see also:
film profile] at 1 million) and that it was essential that the French system "preserve this right to make mistakes," the debate "Diversity of creation: Cultural, political and economic asset?” kept all its promises with, among the speakers, the president of the CNC, Dominique Boutonnat, who was very much involved (and willingly lent himself to all the questions, including the most courteously sharp ones) as is rarely seen in this kind of forum.
"The work of the CNC is not the pursuit of profitability" insisted Dominique Boutonnat, questioned by director Radu Mihaileanu who echoed the recent debates of the Call for a General Assembly of Cinema (see article). The president of the CNC also described as a false rumour the fact that access to advance on receipts would imply the obligation to already have the entire financing plan for a project: "there are no profitability criteria in the choice of films, no instructions. That does not prevent it from being not so bad to have profitable films, but public funding is there to go where private funding does not go.
On the national infrastructure and formation investment programme "France 2030" and in the face of the concerns of certain professionals about the creation of new film studios that would transform them into simple executive producers (for streamers) and where film shooting would be reduced to a minimum in favour of audiovisual productions, Dominique Boutonnat indicated that general interest and public service obligations (possibly quotas or specific pricing policies so that these studios are accessible to all) would accompany the results of the calls for proposals. He also stressed that these investments were necessary to avoid national dispossession, as with Netflix building its own studios in Spain or Disney booking the London studios of Pinewood for nine years.
On the issue of temporary theatrical screenings visas (500 screenings maximum over two days throughout France), the CNC president assured that "if there were any misappropriations, if this system was used by platforms to advertise their platform releases," the CNC would change it, "because it is not designed to give them a marketing showcase.”
Dominique Boutonnat also assured that the programming commitments (guaranteeing access to cinemas) suspended in recent years would be reactivated, but that in the current legal state, the CNC had no means of opposing the multi-distribution that can be predicted for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar 2, for example. Carole Scotta (Haut et Court), co-president of the DIRE distributors, deplored the absence of this regulatory tool that used to exist ("the diversity of creation also depends on the diversity of broadcasting") and stressed that the adoption of legal means to sanction abuses had been an option on the table for years...
Regarding the media chronology adopted last January for three years (read the news), the president of the CNC mentioned the need to use the annual review clause for small adjustments, notably on the issues of window sealing (those of free-to-air channels) for films exclusively financed by non-European operators (in other words, Disney's frictions with free-to-air French channels). This request was warmly welcomed by Édouard Mauriat (Mille et Une Productions, vice-president of the Independent Producers Syndicate) and Marc Missonnier (Moana Films, vice-president of the Union of Cinema Producers). According to the latter, "when we talk about changing the chronology, this actually means bringing the platforms forward (today they are 17 months after theatrical release, but 15 months for Netflix, with free-to-air channels at 22 months). But they can already move forward to 12 months or 6 months if they sign an agreement with the French film organisations with guarantees of volume and diversity." "A reopening of discussions is not a reopening of negotiations," retorted Dominique Boutonnat, who also emphasised the need to avoid gaps in the ongoing exploitation of works.
Place of non-films in theatres, formation, renewal of audiences, etc.: rarely has the president of the CNC been asked so many diverse, often insistent, even incisive questions by professionals, and rarely has he answered them with such persuasive will (and also with the ability to balance engagement and evasion). An unprecedented episode that is further proof of the new climate reigning in the French film industry. What will come of it in concrete terms? To be continued...
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.