Far from the glamor of Cannes, going to the cinema is in free fall

Two days ago, the Cannes Festival drew the curtain on its first post-Covid edition. A return to normality that does not reflect the worrying reality of cinemas, whose attendances continue to fall.

Cinema in Switzerland is going through a gloomy time due to the drastic drop in cinema-goers, which is nevertheless freely accessible again and accessible without a mask after the Covid-19 pandemic.

A worrying drop if we compare the numbers from the Federal Statistical Officereporting a 49.8% drop in weekly registrations between December 2019 and December 2021, with the trend continuing into early 2022.

Pandemic and streaming

The phenomenon is observed almost everywhere in Europe. An example with France: Since the cinemas reopened on May 19, 2021, 150 million admissions have been recorded, a 28% decrease in admissions compared to the 2017-2019 period. How can such a fall be explained? A new study published by the French Film Center attempts to answer this question.

Among the main factors mentioned we find a loss of habit due to Covid-19, the consumption of films on other media and the high cost of tickets.

If the report focuses on France, these indications appear to be relevant to Switzerland as well. Overall, the study confirms that the decline in cinema attendance is due to the health crisis, not only because of the restrictions in place at the time, but also because the pandemic has fundamentally changed consumption habits. In addition, there is a wealth of offers from streaming platforms such as Netflix or Apple TV.

>> Read also: Despite the recent vote, Netflix remains in Switzerland

A reality far away from the red carpet

A week ago, while the party was in full swing on the Croisette, a French cinema operator tweeted the alarm, stressing that “the commercial reality of cinema is light years away from Cannes”.

Picked up by the newspaper Teleramathe man compares these two parallel universes, on the one hand, with a part of the profession “living its best life in Cannes, in a bubble”, and another, less brilliant reality with exhibitors in distress and “catastrophic entries”.

A concern that filmmakers in Switzerland also share. “We have a paradox between these stars who walk around the red carpet and earn millions and the reality on the ground with the entries that fall,” confides Laurent Dutoit, operator of several independent cinemas in Geneva, on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m on. Nevertheless, he is annoyed: “The Cannes Festival remains indispensable for auteur cinema and the media interest it arouses.

End of Covid Aid

However, a poster in Cannes does not guarantee enthusiasm in the cinemas. An example with the film “Frère et Soeur” by Arnaud Desplechin. “Even with a competitive selection and a good headliner, visitor numbers remain average: 1,400 spectators over ten days in Switzerland. In comparison, Top Gun had 100,000 visitors over a weekend,” he analyses. The operator is banking on certain films, notably the Palme d’Or ‘Without Filter’, which will be shown this fall, to boost attendance at its cinemas.

>> Read also: “Top Gun: Maverick”, Tom Cruise puts on the stuff of an old hero and Ruben Ostlund wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Without Filter

“We have been supported by politics so far to cover the losses of the pandemic, but the aid ends in June. If the box office does not start up, we will not be able to last a year with such income,” concludes Laurent Dutoit.

At a time when “Lex Netflix” has to increase the production capacity of Swiss cinemas, industry experts are wondering what measures could stop this decline in attendance.

Sarah Jelassi

TV topic: Gilles de Diesbach

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