Streaming against cinema: “Black Panther” will be released in theaters in France but Disney does not give up

(AFP) – Relief for French cinemas: Disney confirmed on Monday the cinema release on November 9 of the next “Black Panther”, while still pleading to facilitate the release of films on its online video platform.

Traumatized by a drop of around a third, since the Covid pandemic, in their attendance, which reached a historic low in September, cinemas trembled at the idea of ​​seeing this potential blockbuster escape them.

In 2018, the first installment of the superhero film featuring black actors in the imaginary kingdom of Wakanda made 3.8 million admissions in France. But since then, everything has changed.

In addition to the death of the main actor of the first episode, Chadwick Boseman, the pandemic has upset the cinema and streaming market. In addition, the chronology of the media, French regulations which protect cinemas, channels and broadcasters who finance creation, by regulating the release of films on the Internet, in commerce or on television, has been amended.

Disney can now, like Amazon, put its productions online 17 months after their theatrical release, against 36 previously. Netflix, which contributes to French creation, can do the same after 15 months and Canal+, one of the main financiers in France, only six months.

But Disney, engaged in a global battle with billions for supremacy on the platform market and which had shunned the first agreement, is already pushing, eight months later, to revise these rules. In his sights: the obligation to withdraw his films from the platform when they pass on the free channels, after 22 months.

– Dreaded weapon –

In the negotiations, opened at the beginning of October under the aegis of the National Center for Cinematography (CNC), the firm with the big ears has a dreaded weapon: the threat of no longer releasing certain films in theaters, as it has already made with animated films like “Avalonia, the strange journey”, even if it means depriving itself of the related receipts. A disaster scenario for cinemas.

“The cinemas risked paying the price for a conflict between TF1 and Disney”, summarizes a source familiar with the matter to AFP.

Disney will not do anything about it in the end: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will be released in cinemas in France, two days before the United States. But the media chronology “must be completely revised”, persists the multinational in a statement sent to AFP.

She promises to contribute “constructively to the reflections and debates (…) in order to define from February 2023 a new framework (…) fair, flexible and incentive for the release of films in cinemas”. However, she continues to threaten: “in the meantime, we will continue to decide on a case-by-case basis on the release strategy of our films”.

New negotiations are scheduled for November, during which the players in the case will try to put forward their arguments.

This summer, the boss of Netflix considered the French exception in this area “unsustainable”, judging that the films should be released on the platforms “a few weeks” and not several months after their arrival on the big screen.

In the meantime, on the side of the cinema operators, the time is for relief: the release of “Black Panther” “is a very good thing for the cinema, for the spectators and, from our point of view, for Disney too”, reacted to AFP Marc-Olivier Sebbag, general delegate of the Federation of French cinemas.

“Everything is not settled, there is still a lot of work,” he said, welcoming “the constructive approach” of the American group.

He also felt that the success of the recent release of Avatar (more than 500,000 admissions), before the second installment in December, had probably played and demonstrated the irreplaceable “aura” for a film of a release in dark rooms. .


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