French dark rooms finally seem to be picking up some color. In 2022, cinemas recovered just over three quarters of their pre-Covid attendance, according to figures released on Monday by the National Center for Cinema and Animated Image (CNC).

However the restart remains fragile and partly linked to the release of the second part of the avatar-saga. So players in the sector must redouble their imagination to attract spectators.

In one of the cinemas of the CGR cinema group, Porte des Lilas in Paris, we opted for rooms called premium, immersive and luxurious. Here everything is done to offer an ideal experience to the public.

David Baudry, the director of programming at CGR cinema explains “the side panels are there to work on peripheral vision. Namely, when you drive for example, you don’t always look to the right and left but you feel what could happen. Here it works the same way“.

In another Ile-de-France venue, Le Méliès in Montreuil, we bet on eclecticism. From old, new, arthouse cinema, American blockbusters, there is something for everyone and at a lower cost. Here count 6 euros at the full price, 4 at the reduced price. And the formula seems convincing.

Really the project of this cinema which appeared here seven years ago, it was to say if we bring together all the population and all the best films of the year in one place, do we manage to make it work ? And in this case, the very good surprise of the year 2022 is that we have just had the third best year in our history.“, explains Stéphane Goudet, artistic director of the cinema.

“A very encouraging result”

The year that has just passed was the first without the closure of theaters for health reasons, unlike 2020 and 2021. But, specifies the National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image, 2022 remains “a year of transition always marked by the pandemic”, recalling that health restrictions such as the vaccination pass and the ban on the sale of confectionery were not lifted until mid-March.

The result represents a strong rebound compared to the 95.5 million admissions in 2021 (+59.2%), but remains “down -26.9% compared to the pre-Covid period and the historical average high for the 2017 to 2019 financial years” (207.9 million).

The CNC also pointed out that the offer of buoyant films in 2022 was not yet equivalent to that of the pre-Covid years.

This is a very encouraging result in a still atypical context. France records one of the best recoveries in the world, with a more limited decline compared to, for example, the United States, South Korea, Germany, Spain or Italy“, declared in a press release Dominique Boutonnat, president of the CNC, who said he was confident for 2023.

In 2022, the top 5 films will remain the prerogative of American blockbusters (Avatar, Top Gun, the Minions, etc.), but the market share of French films “has remained at the high levels it has reached since 2020”, in particular due to the pandemic and the “relative scarcity of the offer of American films”, notes the CNC.

This share amounted to 40.9% against 37.2% on average over 2017 to 2019. As for the share of American films, it stood at 40.5%.

“Avatar: the way of the water” by James Cameron was the biggest success of the year in France, with 7.6 million admissions since its release on December 14, according to the CNC.

In 2022, “the entire public has returned to theaters, but being more selective“, Eric Marti, a specialist at Comscore, an audience analysis company, told AFP on Friday. American films were a “motor” when, on the French side, only films “with a certain originality” resisted, to the detriment of big comedies, for example.

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