Why have the French shunned dark rooms since they reopened? It is to understand their reasons that the National Center for Cinematography and the Moving Image (CNC) launched a major investigation, the results of which were unveiled on Monday May 23 at the Cannes Film Festival. Five main justifications explain their desertion: first of all “a loss of habit of going to the cinema” (for 38% of respondents), then “the perception of the ticket price” (36%), “wearing a mask” (33%), “the preference for watching films on other media” (26%) and finally “lack of interest in the films on offer” (23%).
Theatrical attendance stood at 95.5 million spectators in 2021, i.e. a 55% drop compared to 2019, despite 300 days of cinema closures in 2020 and 2021 and cascading postponements of releases, especially very big American films. Not to mention the multiple restrictions linked to the health context (gauge, vaccination pass, health pass, etc.). However, despite a still bad start to 2022, an improvement has been taking shape since April. It should be noted that the circuits are impacted more violently than the independent cinemas, in particular the arthouse cinemas.
This disaffection crosses all age categories, but in varying proportions: the youngest (15-24 years old) for example found their way back to theaters more quickly, like the over 60s, while the 25-49 year olds returned on a more occasional basis.
A France cut in two
The study, carried out online from May 2 to 6 by the Vertigo institute with 1,176 French people aged 3 and over, highlights a France cut in two. Between respondents who say they have returned less often (34%) or not at all to the cinema (14%) since the reopening of theaters on May 19, 2021. And those who, on the contrary, say they go there as much (43%) and even more often than before (9%).
The order of the five obstacles given by respondents who go to the cinema less or more at all varies according to their age: 15-34 year olds prefer to watch films on other media (for 36%). Especially on Netflix and all the other streaming platforms whose growth exploded during the pandemic and whose audience has also expanded to older people.
On the other hand, 35-59 year olds, those who do not have unlimited cards and are not entitled to any reduction in cinemas because they are neither young nor old, say 46% that “the ticket is too expensive”. Finally, 51% of people aged 60 and over explain “that they have lost the habit”. However, obeying a virtuous circle, going to the cinema makes you want to go back. Especially since the trailer seen in theaters remains the main source of information on films today.
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