A lot of us take cinema for granted
by Birgit Heidsiek
- CANNES 2014: At the Europa Cinemas conference in Cannes, exhibitors were of the opinion that the releases of European films, as well as the cinemas themselves, need to be defended
“Right now, cinema is in a vulnerable situation,” stated Claude-Éric Poiroux, director general of Europa Cinemas, at the European exhibitors conference in Cannes. “A lot of us take cinema for granted. We need to collaborate much more. If a film is made, there is no guarantee that it will be distributed.” Another key issue featuring in his opening speech was that it is essential to keep the “cultural exception” in place.
2013 was not a very strong year for European cinema. “We had the lowest admissions since 2005,” underlined Poiroux. “Only in Italy was there an increase in ticket sales. All of the other countries had a fall of between 5% and 15%.” The 907 million tickets sold came down to a Europe-wide box-office result of -4.3% and a 4.1% decrease in admissions. While the market share of European films dropped, cinema attendance for US films went up due to the commercial success of movies such as Blue Jasmine and The Great Gatsby. Quartet [+see also:
film profile] was the only European film that made it into the top ten.
“We have to try to improve the distribution of European films,” emphasised Doris Pack, chair of the EU Committee on Culture and Education, who quoted Wim Wenders with the words, “We have to tell European stories; otherwise, we will lose the European soul.” Xavier Troussard, head of unit for Creative Europe, pointed out that industry members are invited to join a dialogue in order to support distribution and exhibition in every possible way. “Cinema is the place where a film gets its reputation,” said Troussard. Meanwhile, Nico Simon, president of Europa Cinemas, brought up the fact that exhibitors are not happy about the day-and-date experiment that was started up by the European Commission. “We were not involved in it.”
Due to a request by the European Commission, the annual Europa Cinemas conference will take place every other year from now on. “Our next conference will be in 2015,” announced Poiroux, who also welcomed the British exhibitor Madeleine Probst as a new board member. “We are holding a workshop on audience development in Bologna from 28 June-2 July,” reported Probst.
The exhibitors' meeting was rounded off by a strong statement from French Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti. “The cultural exception is the only way of escaping from a total standardisation on our continent,” she summed up in her closing words. “We need a strategy for the new Commission to ensure that we continue with an expedient cultural policy in the next five years. That is the message I want to give out.”