French have a flick flack over DVD sched­ule

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News - By Don­ald Clarke

Are the French be­ing dif­fi­cult again? No, they’re not set­ting fire to lambs or blockad­ing ports. They’re clos­ing down their cin­e­mas in protest at a change in gov­ern­ment pol­icy that will de­crease the win­dow that sep­a­rates a film’s the­atri­cal release from its un­veil­ing on DVD. Un­til re­cently, there was a statu­tory six-month gap, but a law brought in last May – aimed at re­duc­ing the dan­gers of piracy – now lessens that pe­riod to four months.

To be fair, the French au­thor­i­ties have al­ways done a splen­did job of sus­tain­ing French pro­duc­tion and ex­hi­bi­tion. The coun­try re­tains a vi­brant cin­e­matic cul­ture that can’t be found in any other Euro­pean na­tion.

Es­tab­lished by FNCF, the or­gan­i­sa­tion that rep­re­sents French ex­hibitors, Op­er­a­tion Lights Out closed 2,000 cin­e­mas for one hour on Wed­nes­day evening. The own­ers are equally trou­bled by the dis­par­ity that has arisen be­tween rises in tick­ets prices (up 11 per cent) and the unlovely French rate of inflation (a queasy 19 per cent) and, with that in mind, are de­mand­ing that the gov­ern­ment waive taxes for cin­ema own­ers.

The slight weak­ness in the ar­gu­ment is that it seems box-of­fice tak­ings have, in fact, gone by a de­cent 3.4 per cent over the past nine months.

None­the­less, you have to ad­mire the determination of Gal­lic cin­ema pro­fes­sion­als to pro­tect their in­dus­try. Vive le cin­ema!

A new French law means that the win­dow be­tween the­atri­cal and DVD release will be short­ened for films such as the Gal­lic Wel­come (above), re­viewed on page 13

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