The French theatrical window is famously long and a matter of law. Changing it simply isn’t an option – unless you’re Canal+, a major financial backer of independent cinema in France.
The Canal+ Group recently announced a new agreement with French regulators that enables its pay-TV service to broadcast theatrical releases from six months after their box office debut.
Typically, French broadcasters must wait at least 10 months. But with declining pay-TV subs in the face of increased competition from over-the-top video platforms, the status quo is changing.
In exchange for the shorter window, Canal+ renewed a commitment to spend more than $200 million annually funding local French film productions through 2023.
The deal also allows Studiocanal, the company’s TV and theatrical unit, for the first time to produce four in-house productions per year—rather than just funding third-party content.
Meanwhile, subscription streaming video services such as Netflix can wait up to three years before gaining access to French theatrical titles – a primary reason why the SVOD pioneer remains engaged in a protracted dispute with the Cannes Film Festival and French exhibitors regarding streaming its original movies concurrent with box office.
While the impasse between Netflix and French exhibitors continues to generate headlines, government officials recognize changing market conditions.
The streaming service, along with Amazon Prime Video and other over-the-top video services, can now stream theatrical titles 15 months after their box office debut, provided they fund local productions – something Netflix and Amazon are doing.
In September, Netflix announced it was producing 14 original series in France in an effort to reach the 30% local content mandate. Netflix reportedly ended the third quarter with about 3.5 million French subscribers.
In February, Amazon announced its first French/German series co-production, a comedy titled, “Deutsch-Les Landes.”
“This is just the beginning for us, as we will keep on bringing the best of French and international TV, including new French Originals, to our customers here,” Jay Marine, VP of Amazon Video EU, said at the time.