With 19.01 million tickets sold in April 2023, French movie theaters for the first time posted a higher attendance than the monthly average from the years before the Covid-19 pandemic (2017-2019), according to data from the National Center for Cinema and Animated Images (CNC). After months of uncertainty and concern, industry professionals see this as an encouraging signal coming right as the Cannes Film Festival kicked off on Tuesday, May 16.
Between April 2022 and April 2023, the number of tickets sold increased by 34%. This success is due in part to The Super Mario Bros. movie. The video-game-born plumber drew more than 5.6 million viewers, the biggest performance so far this year.
While these figures are reassuring, French movie theaters have seen a significant decline in attendance over the past three years. While they were recording attendance in 2019 at a level not seen since 2011, reaching a total of 213.07 million admissions over the year, the Covid-19 lockdowns forced the closure of cinemas, followed by a series of restrictions such as curfews and vaccine requirements.
Since March 2022 and the lifting of restrictions, cinemas have struggled to return to their pre-crisis levels. Worse, in September 2022, theaters recorded their lowest number of admissions since 1980 (excluding the year 2020). Faced with this situation, professionals and the government decided to organize a conference called the Estates General of Cinema.