French president Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation this evening, saying that in-home confinement spurred by the coronavirus crisis will be prolonged until May 11. While not specifically identifying the Cannes Film Festival, Macron also noted that festivals and other events drawing large crowds will not be allowed to go forward until at least mid-July. That throws into further question the fate of a Cannes Festival that has only been canceled once in 1968, but was already postponed with organizers said to be mulling a late-June or early July re-start. That won’t be possible under the restrictions Macron outlined tonight, and that is just a minimum. Many in Hollywood expect the festival to be canceled and it would be a burden to send the usual Cannes crowd on flights to mill around the Croisette with a pandemic that is causing rising fatality rates each hour. Cannes Festival organizers were not commenting on whether they will finally throw in the towel or not.
Many businesses are expected to re-open May 11, the goal to put a large part of the workforce back in action. All public gathering spaces including cinemas, restaurants, bars and boutiques will remain closed until further notice. Box office in France, which has taken the hardest hit of the European majors, was down 36% across the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2019.
The country’s National Film Center, the CNC, had previously taken measures to relax a notoriously strict windows policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. A reduction from the traditional four-month delay between theatrical release and DVD or TVOD was granted for all titles that were already in cinemas on March 14, while movies whose release was set for after theaters closed have also been granted the option.
The Cannes Film Festival has been the last holdout among major industry events in France, as the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and the Annecy International Animation Film Festival were scratched. Both normally take place in June.
France has been under confinement for roughly a month. The original date given for the lift of the lockdown was April 15, but it had been widely expected the government would extend that by at least a few weeks as Macron did this evening in what was his fifth televised speech amid the crisis. France now has over 130K confirmed cases of coronavirus while the death toll stands at 14,967.
Other measures announced this evening include the re-opening of daycare centers and schools from May 11, however universities will remain shuttered. French borders will also be closed to non-European countries for an unspecified time.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.