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INDUSTRY / MARKET France

France’s CNC enhances its exceptional support measures

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- The institution announces emergency financial aid and a relaxation of media chronology rules, which would allow films billed for cinema release at the outset of the health crisis to be released on VOD

France’s CNC enhances its exceptional support measures
The Girl With A Bracelet by Stéphane Demoustier, one of the films granted special dispensation by the CNC for an early VOD release

Two weeks after unveiling an initial package of measures (read our news) aimed at shoring up the French film industry during the current health crisis, the CNC has now announced further actions to help those active in the sector to withstand and adapt to the brutal impact of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Most notably, the Centre set out the practical steps for implementing an article within the emergency law passed on 23 March, allowing for the breaking of media chronology rules (which stipulate the order in which works are available to different broadcasters following their release in cinemas). For the record, these rules accommodate a highly complex range of interests in France and, generally, the negotiations required to amend them are never-ending and only tend to result in a few modest changes at best. But Covid-19 has turned the landscape upside down: movie theatres are closed, citizens in lockdown are indulging in excessive screen-time (television audience numbers have rocketed) and films which were showing in cinemas when the health crisis unfolded were victims which could still be saved by bringing forward their video release date (normally only possible four months after a film’s release in cinemas, or three months after for feature films whose box-office admissions fall below 100,000).

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This is now a done thing, and all films which were showing in cinemas on 14 March - the day before cinemas were closed by the French authorities - can now take advantage, if their distributers (and producers) so desire, of an early video release, upon request. Twenty-five requests have been filed to date, and decisions to grant waivers in respect of these films will be ratified by the end of the week. The same does not apply, however, for films whose cinema release window had already ended and who now wish to be screened via SVOD (subscriber platforms), because the time delay for films arriving on Netflix’s platform, for example, remains unchanged at 36 months after their cinema release (and 16 or 17 months for platforms who have signed interprofessional agreements and who fund French audiovisual creation). Moreover, not all French distributers (and their associated producers) are going to take up the option of an early VOD release, with some of them (such as Memento with Martin Provost’s How To Be A Good Wife [+see also:
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or Jour2Fête with A Son [+see also:
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by Mehdi M. Barsaoui) already announcing that they would prefer to wait for cinemas to reopen and re-release their films.

The CNC has also facilitated funding access for films which were scheduled for a future cinema release before the health crisis broke out, and whose teams now wish them to be released directly on VOD. In such cases - for which no specific dispensation is required - films would usually have had to reimburse the CNC for any aid they might have received. In the current context, the CNC will not insist on reimbursement.

In addition to the above, the Film Centre has adopted a further crucial measure to ensure the immediate economic survival of certain companies (producers, distributers, editors, exhibitors) which find themselves in difficulty as a result of the health crisis. The French system for automatic support was actually designed so as to enable investment in future projects, but, in the current context, account holders can use 30% of available funds (albeit with the prior authorisation of the CNC) to cover their immediate financial needs.

Last but not least, the CNC has made available a fixed-rate emergency subsidy for authors, by linking them up with the national solidarity fund which the French state introduced for VSBs (Very Small Businesses). In this respect, the SACD (Society of Authors and Playwrights) has been tasked with looking after (and showing flexibility towards) authors in a system whereby independents are entitled to a fixed-rate emergency subsidy of €1,500 per month if the Coronavirus epidemic has had a significant impact on their activities (i.e. a 70% drop in business compared to the same month in the previous year).

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(Translated from French)

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