That’s it ! One of the sea serpents of the French audiovisual landscape is about to be resolved. This Monday, film professionals sign at the Ministry of Culture under the leadership of Roselyne Bachelot the new version of the media chronology, which frames for three years the exclusivities of films according to the media after their theatrical release.
The new rules are due to come into force on February 10, the date on which the previous agreement expired, for the next three years. Until 2025 then.
Going to the cinema as a starting point
The starting point of the timeline remains the theatrical release of the film. Then comes the release on DVD / Blu-ray or video on demand four months after the arrival in dark rooms (in the event of failure at the box office, this period can be reduced to three months). A period that some players would have liked to reduce to 45 days (a common period with our neighbors, in particular following the Covid crisis), but France will remain at four months.
Canal +, a six-month window paid 600 million euros
The second window is that of Canal +, six months after the theatrical release… and for nine months. A dearly paid exclusivity: signed last December, it provides for an investment of more than 600 million euros for the next three years in French and European cinema on the part of the encrypted channel.
Canal+ is a clear winner, Vincent Bolloré’s group has pulled it off,” admit several industry observers quoted in L’Opinion.
Netflix at 15 months, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video at 17 months
The third window is that of the streaming platforms, which will have to wait 17 months before offering the films… Except Netflix, which has already advanced its balls in French cinema: financing of films with modest budgets (between 3 and 4 million euros) or the restoration of heritage works, such as Napoleon by Abel Gance with the Cinémathèque française. Netflix therefore gains two months, and will be able to release the films at 15 months. A strong argument against its competitors, Disney + and Amazon Prime Video in mind. Especially since it’s not the only bitter pill for streaming platforms…
22 months for television channels… but not platforms
The last window is that of the free television channels, which will be able to broadcast the films 22 months after their theatrical release. Except that the latter, angry to go after Netflix and company, negotiated a “sealing window”. From 22 to 36 months, when a film will be broadcast on a free channel… it will have to be removed from streaming platforms!
Nevertheless, agreements could be made between the streaming services and the free-to-air channels, which would then open up periods for sharing broadcasting rights.
Fewer Disney films in theaters?
This new media chronology, if it makes it possible to see films more quickly, remains strewn with pitfalls. To the point that some players will not sign the new agreement. “We put constraints on the platforms that I don’t understand. If they want to circumvent the agreement, they have only one solution left: not to release their films in theaters. The public will go less to the cinema”, indignant Pascal Rogard, director general of the Society of dramatic authors and composers (SACD), non-signatory, to L’Opinion.
And one of the groups that plans to no longer come out in French theaters is none other than Disney, which could not sign the agreement for Disney+. Between the “sealing window” and its decline to 17 months, the company considers itself to be losing. Last September, she threatened to withdraw completely from the circuit. The agreements on the sharing of broadcasting rights were found to try to appease Disney. Without success. If pure withdrawal seems unlikely, a drastic reduction in Disney releases (which also includes Fox movies and Searchlight Pictures) seems more plausible.
Same purpose envisaged at Warner Bros, whose HBOMax platform should not arrive in France before 2023. The sentence of Caroline Lang, general manager of Warner Bros Television France, to L’Opinion is irrevocable: “France is the dinosaur of the market. »