The fizz has long come off the European Film industry, even if the champagne corks are popping in Cannes.
The financial crisis of 2007 has hit the business hard, subsidies being cut, even in countries which previously feather bedded the industry. Spain for example has seen state aid go from 124 million euros down to just 55 million.
It’s not just the present that is the concern. The industry may also be setting up problems for the future. The number of films made in the European Union is falling. This may not matter right now, but it will do in the coming months and years.
The only bright star at the moment is the UK. The now reliable banker, James Bond, saw huge success with the franchise’s latest outing, Skyfall. It notched up a box office of more than a billion dollars worldwide.
But fewer people are going to the movies ….. after a slight increase in 2011, a downward trend can be seen for 2012. This may be a reflection of the economic times.
Even in France, the cold winds of recession are blowing. State-run France Televisions, which runs a group of national TV networks, will reduce its movie investment by three million euros this year.
Euronews interview with Claude-Eric Poiroux, Director General of Europa Cinemas
The film industry is not just festivals, it is also a business, there are cinemas which need to make money. Given the crisis how are they performing ?
The attendance figures for 2012 are quite a bit lower which therefore means that there is still a slowdown and there may be the beginning of a crisis. We do not know exactly what will be the outcome. What is happening across Europe is also quite uneven, not all countries are in the same situation. Spain, for example, is experiencing a real crisis for two reasons …. there is a crisis in the country as a whole, then there is an additional crisis in cinema. It has suffered from two or three decisions taken by the government, including that of increasing VAT, from 8 to 21 per cent. And at the same time there is a crisis in production because what we seeing today, may not be what is actually happening in terms of creation, production, investment, the type of movies that is, and also the number of being being made in Europe we’ll see the effects of those in a few months or years.
In times of crisis there are some styles of films that work better than others?
We used to say in general cinema is not a victim of [economic] problems because it is a safe haven. We take refuge in the theatre [it’s where] we go to forget what is happening outside. This is what happened in the past several times. Now there is always a little more luck compared to other [sectors of the economy] they’re more affected. Now we also think that [going to] the movies also costs. Fortunately we can go into a cinema and not pay very much. This is not the most expensive hobby and [get] a performance of great quality. So we can say the relationship between quality and price is still something [that is] attractive to the public. If we want the public to continue to come and find escapism well there will be perhaps a change in the type of films. The movies may have to become [more] entertainment. Maybe a little less a place of reflection more where is a certain pleasure to be found.
So how we can summarize the crisis of European cinema in two or three words?
I think that today there are still questions asked because many countries do not really have the choice to understand culture is essential as a response to the crisis. One of the concerns we feel in some countries, particularly Spain, Italy as well, and in some Central European countries: [in] Hungary, it is clear that today there are still things which threaten the existence of a cinema that Europe knows. …arthouse cinema which Europe is very good at, which can influence the public. The movies are really powerful, and should not be hampered, should be allowed to express itself.