The chronology of French media is becoming a real headache for streaming platforms. In particular Disney, which recently decided to release some of its films simultaneously in theaters and on Disney +. An impossible thing in France which could soon lead to a catastrophic decision.
The media chronology: what future in the age of streaming?
In force in France since the end of the 1980s, the media chronology aims to preserve the exploitation of films in theaters. It concerns the time allowed between the moment when a film obtains an exploitation visa, and the moment when it can be shown on other supports. Currently, the window is as follows:
- 4 months for sale and rental (3 months for films with less than 100,000 admissions)
- 8 months for Canal + and OCS (6 months for films with less than 100,000 admissions)
- 22 months for the first free-to-air television window (20 months for films with less than 100,000 admissions)
- 36 months for so-called “non-virtuous” streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney + and Amazon (34 for films with less than 100,000 admissions)
This French cultural exception is at the center of all debates since the advent of streaming platforms. Especially since giants like HBO Max and Disney + have decided to simultaneously release their films in theaters and on their platforms in the United States and in other countries. Obviously in France, such a decision cannot take place because of the chronology of the media. But it could soon lead to very damaging decisions for our country. Discussions are currently taking place to arrive at a new timetable, but no one seems to be able to agree.
Disney threatens to no longer release its films in France
Our media timeline is a real headache for streaming platforms. Especially since we are the only country in this case. In a recent paper published by Variety, we learn that Disney would be thinking to no longer release its films in theaters in France, to be able to use them more quickly on Disney +. Obviously, given the number of film licenses held by the studio, such a decision would be catastrophic for French production.
Ardavan Safaee, CEO of Pathé, did not hide his concern about this threat:
It is a worrying situation. If some very big American films are no longer released in theaters, that will impact the entire sector, including that of independent films, which benefits from blockbuster admissions.
A source currently working on discussions around the media timeline in France reportedly said the French exception could not last in the current context:
In the United States, the maximum window for a film to be made available on a streaming platform after its theatrical release is 45 days. And very many countries around the world follow this pattern quite simply because American production represents between 70 and 80% of films. So how can France isolate itself from the rest of the world?
France is an exception because American production represents less than 50% of admissions, but we cannot afford to lose the Disney films. That would mean a loss of 50 million admissions per year.
But some operators seem rather confident and believe that an agreement with Disney could quickly be reached:
We have seen recently that Disney has backed down with its films. They realize that they need theaters not only for income, but also for their image (…)