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78th Deauville Congress

UNIC attended the 2023 FNCF Congress in Deauville, which once a year brings together cinema operators from across France for four days of industry debates, conferences, and film presentations.

The Deauville Congress, which is the biggest annual convention for French cinema operators, took place from 18 to 21 September in Normandy. Representatives from the French film sector took part in a week of internal and public discussions on the future of the national cinema industry. In addition to exhibitors of all sizes and locations from across the country, the event also brought together French distributors, producers, manufacturers, service providers as well as representatives from the CNC (the French Cinema Centre) and the French Ministry of Culture.
The first day of the convention involved a series of internal debates specific to the different French cinema exhibition categories, with small/medium/large cinema companies meeting together to discuss their specific concerns. Representatives from each exhibitor category presented key outcomes from these meetings, which mostly focused on rising operations and staf costs, upcoming reforms on film programming and arthouse subsidies, laser transition and sustainability, concerns about the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes in Hollywood. The sustainability issue ranks high among the priorities of the French Cinema Federation (FNCF), with the creation of a new “"Ecology Committee”, whose goals are to train cinemas’ staff on green practices, share inspiring case studies on a collaborative online platform, foster collaboration with service providers and manufacturers to facilitate the green transition and negotiate with institutions to create a fund to support cinemas investing in greener equipment, like laser projectors.
This was followed by a series of quickfire sessions, like the evolution of the Pass Culture, a national initiative from the French Government allowing all citizens aged between 15 and 18 to benefit from a yearly amount that can be spent on cultural activities, including cinema-going. Since its launch in 2019 about 1.5 million youngsters have used it to go to the cinema, for a total of 11.5 million tickets bought through this initiative so far. Over 1,600 cinemas are currently partners of Pass Culture, 15% more than in 2022. Questions were raised by some exhibitors about its co-existence with other national film education programmes. Following presentations looked into accessibility, recruitment and inclusion.
The following day included a international panel titled “Cinemas across the world: recovery, state of play and international overview”, moderated by The Boxoffice Company CEO Julien Marcel. After an overview on the summer box office results across Europe provided by Comscore, panelists Phil Clapp (UKCA and UNIC), Laura Houlgatte (UNIC), Jaime Tarrazon (FECE), Tim Richards (Vue), Daniela Elstner (Unifrance) and Xavier Albert (Universal France & Italy) shared optimistic insights on cinema-going trends in the territories they cover. UNIC CEO Laura Houlgatte presented some audience initiatives launched by a number of European countries, like the national cinema days, discounted days for senior visitors or nationwide cinema passes and giftcards. All speakers were positive on the excellent results achieved by “Barbenheimer” and other US studio titles during the past months and agreed that local and European productions were necessary to guarantee a diverse offer to cater to all audiences. It was mentioned that the Hollywood strike might impact the release calendar in the coming months, although it was too early to assess the actual consequences.
The afternoon session was dedicated to national film policies and support mechanisms, with the French cinema centre CNC engaging with cinema operators in the room on a broad range of topics including but not limited to the rising operation costs, green transition of cinemas, programming and distribution requirements, arthouse subsidy reform and film education policies. This open conversation was introduced by a recorded speech of the French Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, who shared her belief in the theatrical experience and the economic, social and cultural value of cinema-going.
The conference was capped by a beautiful homage to the world famous and incredibly successful French director François Ozon – mostly known for his author dramas featuring renowned French actors.
The final day of the Congress, the traditional distributors’ day, allowed French cinema operators to watch over 360 film trailers, showcasing most of the upcoming film titles that will amaze audiences for the months to come.

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