In another blow to the industry, the French government has ordered a curfew in several major cities across the country. From Saturday, residents of L’Ile de France (which includes Paris and its environs), Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Lille, Grenoble, Montpellier, Rouen, Toulouse and Saint-Etienne will be under a strict curfew from 9PM to 6AM. This will affect about 20M people, or a little under a third of the population.
Cinemas, theaters, restaurants and other businesses will be closed as of 9PM for a period of at least four weeks. Paris is the biggest moviegoing region of France, with many showtimes in the evening hours, meaning this will take a bite out of box office.
French ticket sales have been doing increasingly well amid the reopening process which began on June 22. Admissions last weekend were 526K with local film The ABCs Of Love (Parents D’Elèves) leading. Tenet has made $21.4M since releasing on August 26 from over 2.2M tickets sold.
Overall, September was the best month at the French box office since the shutdown with 5.5M admissions repping a 51% drop from the same month last year. In total, there have been 18M tickets sold since reopening.
But coronavirus cases have been on the rise in the major metropoles and France’s President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said the curfew’s objective is to reduce the current “20,000 new cases per day” to around 3,000-5,000 and that patients with COVID-19 who are in reanimation represent just 10%-15% versus the current 32%.
Should the curfew not yield improvement over the next two weeks, it could be rolled back to 8PM or 7PM. There is also the possibility that it extends to six weeks.
Macron also announced that partial unemployment would be reactivated for the cultural sector during the period and said the government would do its utmost to help theaters and cinemas with reprogramming to allow for shows to play earlier. He noted that in restaurants, theaters and cinemas, “we collectively designed rules that ensure we are very well protected… We have protocols that are very efficient in cinemas just as in theaters.”
Sophie Dulac, who has 13 sites in Paris, was relatively bullish, telling BFMTV, “It’s not good news, but it’s not a catastrophe either.”