France closes iconic Grand Rex cinema as audiences collapse over COVID


The Grand Rex spans seven acres and can accommodate 2,700 seats

Paris: One of France’s most iconic cinemas closed for the month of August because so few people want to risk seeing films on the big screen.

Managers at the massive Grand Rex in central Paris – which remained open throughout World War II – said on Monday Hollywood studios were also responsible for delaying the release of so many of its summer blockbusters.

The Federation of French Cinemas said on Monday the double whammy was crippling the industry as it asked for state aid to help them weather the crisis.

“Between the drop in admissions (due to the coronavirus) and the lack of fresh American films which are traditionally a big summer draw, we have decided to close our doors from August 3,” the manager of the Grand Rex, Alexandre Hellmann.

“We will lose less money by closing than by staying open with this depressing box office,” he added.

With 2,700 seats, the largest seven-screen Grand Rex theater is one of the largest in Europe with a screen measuring 300 square meters (3,230 square feet).

Many French cinemas have been virtually empty since they were allowed to reopen after an eight-week lockdown last month.

The cinema federation called on banks and owners to leave room for maneuver to their members, saying it was “absolutely necessary that the government also take urgent measures to refinance” the sector.

Blockbusters pulled

Social distancing rules mean cinemas are never allowed to be half full.

And the public has mostly remained on the sidelines despite a poll that found nearly a third of the country’s population wanted to return to the big screen.

Several movie directors have told AFP that the postponement of “Top Gun 2”, “Wonder Woman 1984” and Christopher Nolan’s spy drama “Tenet,” as well as Disney’s big-budget family movie “Mulan », Had helped to kill the buzz that they were. counting to attract people.

“It’s much more difficult than we imagined,” said Aurelie Delage, manager of the six-screen Cinemascop Megarama in Garat in the west of France.

It’s so dark in fact that “I don’t look at the numbers,” she told AFP. “This cannot go on. ”

But Hollywood’s lack of competition has helped some small French films make a box-office impact, with the comedies “Divorce Club” and “Very Simply Black” (“Very Simply Black”) helping to break through the million barrier. last week for the first time since the lockdown ended.

Several major French releases have also been postponed to September and beyond.

A study last week showed that the French box office was down almost 70% from the same period last year, with only arthouse cinemas going against the trend.

Yet the French traditionally cinephiles have always been much more enthusiastic about returning to the cinema than their neighbors.

Admissions to German cinemas have fallen to just 17% of normal levels and the situation in Spain is even more dire with just 13%, according to the Comscore study.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)


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