French have a flick flack over DVD schedule
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