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Canal+ signs a new agreement vis-a-vis French film


- Canal+ and Ciné+ guarantee an investment in French and European cinema totalling €600m over the next 3 years, while an overhaul of media chronology windows is now topping the agenda

Canal+ signs a new agreement vis-a-vis French film

Negotiations proved tense as the deadline approached (read our article and interview), but, in the end, Canal+ and the various French film organisations (represented by the BLIC, the BLOC and the ARP) managed to find a way forwards and to sign a new (tacitly renewable) agreement, consisting of a guaranteed investment of over €600m (with very specific volume criteria as regards pre-purchases, acquisitions of independent works and varying budgets) in French and European film over the next three years, courtesy of Canal+ and Ciné+. In this sense, the Canal Group are still, by far, the biggest source of finance for French cinema, because even though the all-powerful SVoD platforms are now legally bound to invest in French film production, the amount they are obliged to commit will only rise incrementally (Netflix, for example, estimates its investments in French film to reach €40m by 2023).

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To clarify, Canal+ will invest somewhere in the region of €190m per year up until 2024, as well as an additional €32m aimed at settling any ongoing litigation over these three years (Canal+ hasn’t met all of its investment obligations in previous years). Moreover, a simplification has taken place, "providing for far greater visibility and foresight in this pivotal transition period", insists Valérie Lépine-Karnik (director general of the Union of Film Producers), because the annual investment put forward by Canal+ will now be fixed, rather than calculated against a figure which is prone to variations (linked to turnover and minimum guarantees per subscriber) and subject to multiple checks and cross-checks.

In return, the various French film organisations signing the agreement are committed to bringing forward the media window currently enjoyed by Canal+ to six months following a film’s cinema release (as opposed to the current eight months), as part of the media chronology overhaul which is now in the final stages of discussions (an agreement must be signed by 10 February 2022 at all costs), and are also pledging an exclusive rights window lasting a minimum of nine months, which could extend to as many as 16 months when combined with the second window. "As such, the various signatories are calling for the new media chronology proposed by the film organisations to be adopted, and for the authorities to adjust the rules so that this agreement with Canal+ can come into effect as soon as possible so as to ensure ongoing funding for the sector."

This new media chronology, however, is still far from being agreed, since the preferred plan under current discussions would be for SVoD platforms to screen films 15 months after their cinema releases, should an agreement be reached with French film (Netflix is in rather advanced negotiations to this effect), and 17 months after a film’s release without an agreement, because streamers work on a film by film approach and would balk somewhat if they had to invest more money in a particular work than Canal+, for example, without enjoying a broadcasting window which was at least the equivalent of or better than the former’s. It’s an outlook which is light-years away from the French model of methodically organising successive broadcasting windows (in order to create the highest possible value for works and multiply their funding sources). But in order for the new media chronology to be ratified, a number of platforms will have to sign up to it and show signs of good will…

Moreover, free-to-air channels which would be agreeable to a media window falling 22 months after a film’s cinema release, would want to protect their exclusivity over certain films (those which they have invested in, via co-production or pre-purchasing), and therefore, for their broadcasting window to be watertight (which would mean streamers making films inaccessible during this time period…). In short, the situation is a long way away from being resolved, a variety of small and technical details are complicating the final stage of negotiations… But maintaining the historic association between Canal+ and French film is still a cornerstone for producing a diversified form of French film, a cornerstone which might also serve as a bridge towards the future without demolishing the present in the process.

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(Translated from French)

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