DIRE distributors sound the alarm
by Fabien Lemercier
- The screening of films in theatres, piracy, the dwindling number of films being shown on television: the pressure is on for independent distribution and diversity
Taking advantage of the home stretch in the French presidential elections to appeal to the candidates directly, distributors from DIRE (Distributeurs Indépendants Réunis Européens) have painted a rather alarming picture of their sector, which is "an essential link in the chain of funding, production and distribution of works, the fragile economic balance of which" is today being called into question, endangering "films of diversity."
According to DIRE, "the annual figures showing healthy admission levels are misleading: a growing number of films of diversity have serious problems reaching screens, and when these films manage to make it onto the programme, they are not put in the condition to reach their audience, with weekend screenings cancelled to make way for the premieres of Hollywood films or non-film programmes, a reduction in the number of screenings from the second week, and so on and so forth. In spite of an inter-professional agreement signed almost a year ago, these practices live on, while the share of receipts making it back to assignees continues to dwindle", and "the fees for the promotion of films in theatres continue to rise and become more widespread". DIRE is thus calling for an effective regulation "to stop the inevitable competition between works being distorted from the off by a disproportionate and asymmetrical ratio of power between groups and individuals of all trades, including film exhibitors."
The second battleground is piracy, a study on which has estimated that this cost the French film industry €1.36 billion in 2016. DIRE has issued a call to arms on all levels, demanding prevention in schools, the delisting of illegal offerings, sanctions which act as effective deterrents through the implementation of a system of fines, and the prosecution of the administrators of pirate websites. Also pointing to the lack of clarity surrounding legal video-on-demand offerings, due to the freezing of rights held by almost all TV channels 10 months after a work is released in theatres, DIRE highlights that before any modernisation of the chronology of the media and in the general interests of the sector can take place, distributors must accept the unfreezing of rights without compensation."
Finally, DIRE points out that "the place of films of diversity on television is becoming increasingly small: with very rare exceptions, the films shown on national TV channels, when they haven’t already been shown multiple times over the last 30 years, are far from representative of the variety of films distributed in theatres." An observation that has led DIRE to ask public TV channels, through their co-production sectors, to seize on "their role as courier acting as the natural relay for independent distribution with greater yen and boldness."
(Translated from French)
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