French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced new measures to control the spread of the coronavirus with gatherings of more than 100 people forbidden for the foreseeable future. This is down from the previous 1,000 person limit and follows President Emmanuel Macron’s speech last night which stipulated that all schools and universities in the country would close from Monday during what he termed, “France’s worst health crisis in a century.”
Philippe, speaking on TF1’s afternoon news program, said that the reduction to groupings of no more than 100 people “obviously means there will be significant consequences for theaters and cinemas.” Movie theaters in certain pockets of France had already been closed due to COVID-19, with some running at 50% capacity. French exhibitors org the FNCF expects cinemas will be allowed to remain open, but with a limit of 100 people per auditorium, a spokesperson told Deadline. A clarified decree is due this afternoon.
Box office has seen relatively slight impact in France throughout the spread of the disease. February admissions were down 19.5% on last year, which had a more robust lineup of releases. An issue this year will be a lack of tentpole titles as Hollywood has switched up several dates.
National film body the CNC this week said it plans to defer tax payments for exhibitors and will also speed up subsidy payments to art hosue cinemas. Support for distributors may also be advanced.
Meanwhile, the Cannes Film Festival is still working to prepare the event for May, Disneyland Paris is shuttering and local elections are still slated to go ahead this weekend. France currently has 2,876 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 61 fatalities.
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