Cinema: Netflix, too easy scapegoat due to low acceptance

Cinema: Netflix, too easy scapegoat due to low acceptance

Netflix killed me. This is the perfect culprit that cinema operators have pointed to to explain the audience’s current discontent. Since the last restrictions (vaccination permit) were removed in mid-March, admissions have remained down by a quarter compared to 2019. They are being used more and more. In fact, if platforms are partly responsible for deserting rooms, they aren’t the only culprit. Thus the operators, by being the only scapegoat, avoid any self-criticism for the other reasons for which they are responsible. Review the details.

1- expensive

According to a GroupM study in April, prices remain the main obstacle: 54% of French people say they don’t go to the cinema often because “prices are too high”, and 77% think it has “become too expensive a leisure activity”. Commissioned by the National Film Center (CNC) that “excessive price” is the second explanation for cinemas discontent, put forward by 36% of those who go to cinemas less (the first reason is “dissatisfaction with cinemas”). “). Surprisingly, it is CSP+ (42%) who complain about such a high cost, more than the inactive (31%). The price was also denounced especially by 35-49 year olds, more so than young adults. The problem is exacerbated by inflation forcing the French into arbitration.

Faced with this, theaters in some countries responded by lowering their prices, as in Great Britain. In France, on the contrary, prices rose. In 2021, the ticket price increased by +6%, to an average of 7.04 € (including discounts), twice the ticket price in 1984 (see figures below). And again, this is just average. In Paris, Pathé Beaugrenelle raised the price of its Dolby room by one euro, which has now reached a record amount of 23.5 euros per seat…

And operators say the place is still cheaper than in Great Britain (8.52 euros), Germany (8.87 euros), the United States (9 euros), Switzerland (14.6 euros) and Japan (12 euros). But in these countries the population goes to the cinema less than it does in France and the national production is less there (with the exception of the United States).

In fact, these high tariffs allow French theaters to make comfortable profits. According to the INSEE study, operators’ margin was 37% in 2015. The ticket price is not the only explanation: the sale of food products, which accounts for 13% of revenue, is particularly profitable, with the profitability of the confectionery industry close to 30%, according to a report. In UGC, food products accounted for 15% of cinema sales in 2019. In Kinepolis, cinema sales (sweets, drinks, goodies, etc.) were 28% of revenue in 2019.

Admittedly, the rooms were badly affected by the health crisis that forced them to remain closed for a total of 300 days. But major groups have already regained their pre-crisis profits. In 2021, French theaters in Pathé Gaumont generated an operating margin of 10%, compared to 12.5% ​​in 2019. For French theaters in Kinepolis, operating margin was 24.5% last year compared to 25,2% two years earlier (see graphs). below). The latter also generates better profitability in France than in his native Belgium, than in Spain or in North America …


According to the study by GroupM, 76% of French people have gone to the cinema less often since the health crisis. The first reason given (for 23% of them) was ‘fear of contracting Covid-19’.

Bruno Andreotti, a professor at the University of Paris and a researcher at ENS, recalls that “cinemas, like all closed environments, are potential places for airborne transmission of the virus.”

Practically speaking, a portion of the air you breathe in a room is the air that other onlookers breathe in, sometimes in a significant proportion. This is measured by the level of carbon dioxide in the room, which can be easily measured with a carbon dioxide sensor. Some amplifiers have tried this experiment, and they have noticed high levels of carbon dioxide. “At the end of the movie, the rate was over 2,200ppm (=5% of the air someone inhaled). Almost 3 times the minimum (800ppm) recommended by the SHA,” one said.

To avoid this, it is necessary to renew the air with a silent device. Professor Andreotti explains: “Three solutions can be installed. Either an air purifier, a Hepa purifier. Either ultraviolet (UV-C) purifiers, but the state has so far refused to produce standards, and their compliance cannot be guaranteed. Either mechanical flow-controlled ventilation Dual (VMC) pumps, which are likely already installed in all movie theaters. But it is essential to ensure that these cell amplified pumps provide sufficient flow for fresh air, which may require changing their motors.”

As Covid-19 continues to spread (pollution is on the rise again in some countries like France), many countries (US, Belgium, etc.) have launched extensive indoor ventilation schemes. As for cinemas, the most advanced is Japan, where cinemas Show From the outside, the carbon dioxide level inside the room, so as to reassure the spectator.

In France, the issue of room ventilation has not been raised by the government or by professionals in the profession. No plan has been launched or any study has been conducted. We have identified one operator (out of 2,000) who installed seven air purifiers at a cost of €25,400. When asked multiple times about this, the FNCF (Exhibitors’ Lobby) never responded. As for the CNC survey about bystander dissatisfaction, it gave participants several possible reasons, but the issue of contamination was not part of the answers given.

3- Display problem

Long before Covid-19, French cinemas were already victims of a structural problem: young people are turning to the cinema less and less. 15-24-year-olds, who accounted for 56% of tickets sold in 1980, weigh in just 22% in 2021. Conversely, the over-50s’ weight has exploded during this period, rising from 7% to 51% of admissions, and three-quarter to over 60, according to figures from CNC*.

This aging particularly affects French films. In 2021, 55% of French cinema viewers are over 50 years old. According to Médiamétrie, the average age of French movie viewers was 47 in 2019, 10 years older than a Hollywood movie.

During the 2019 ARP meetings, producer Sylvie Bialat summed up the situation bluntly: “We really lost a generation from 30 to 50. Our audience is between 50 and 80. Audiences who go to see our films on their way to the cemetery, but they still make us huge successes. “.

CNC President Dominique Boutonnat had a lot to say: “We have lost a part of our young population, who go less and less to the cinema and will see fewer French films. Ten years ago, young people under the age of twenty-five went to the cinema nine times a year, today it is five times. And of those five movies, they’ll watch at least four Marvel, Pixar or LucasFilm movies. French films that are daring and risky … are no longer seen. And if you lose a generation, you lose it in the future,” that is, he maintains the same practices as he gets older.

Directed by Rebecca Zlotowski just now fair Similar statement: “We are paying to make cinema among us, a cinema aimed at the elderly.”

The same story with Olivier Assayas: “The desire to go to the cinema will remain, especially for teenagers, because it is the cheapest distraction. But it will be more difficult for independent cinema. Its audience is aging. It is built around the new wave, and the successes that you have are successes ” Vermeil’s card, and not very exciting. Young people do not go to see the award-winning film Golden Bear in Berlin.

In his latest production, Olivier Assayas himself responded to the sirens of platforms, which, from the start, were aimed primarily at a young audience, in particular by addressing topics to which they are sensitive (feminism, diversity, etc.)

Cinemas are supported at all costs

  • Hard hit by the health crisis, operators have received very generous state support, receiving nearly half a billion euros in aid. First, they affected 257 million universal measures (PGE, partial unemployment, etc.), according to a report by the State Audit Bureau. Subsequently, they received 168.8 million euros in sectoral aid from the Committee against Torture (three-quarters of the emergency aid was paid to the sector). Finally, they are also entitled to €34.3 million as part of the recovery plan.
  • Consequently, Pathé Gaumont Cinemas obtained a €80 million state guarantee loan (PGE) that could be repaid in 2025, as well as a €69 million equity recovery loan over eight years. For its part, UGC secured €67 million PGE and also saved €18.4 million thanks to partial unemployment.
  • In its report, the Audit Bureau emphasized “the predominant share of support for cinema operators.” It is recognized that exhibitors “are the segment that has suffered the most damage, with their sources of income coming to a complete halt after the closure of cinemas. They are also a well-organised profession, and they are united (with one professional union) for their discussions with the public authorities”. However, the Court of Auditors notes that a device against abuse was introduced, to prevent a room from receiving more aid than its lost volume…
  • These financial flows were considered excessive even within the sector. The Film Organizations Liaison Office denounced “unfair crisis management”. According to him, the actions “disproportionately” benefited the operators, who monopolized a “disproportionate share” of CNC aids. In particular, the bloc expressed its “deep lack of understanding” and “concern” about compensation for preventing the sale of drinks and sweets, accusing the public authorities of “confusing cinemas and cinemas.”

* 2021 figures have been recalculated to exclude children aged 3-14 who were not counted in 1980

Average entrance price to theaters (in euros including tax)

Source: CNC Graph: Flourish

Pathé Gaumont cinema results in France (in millions of euros)

User-generated cinema scores in France (in millions of euros)

Kinepolis results in France (in millions of euros)

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