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The cinemas are deconfining: “Nearly 40 films per

Limited gauges, rigorous health protocols, programming, we take stock of the reopening of cinemas on May 19 with Louis Merle, general manager of independent cinemas Multiciné.

The dark rooms will (finally!) regain their shine, after 10 months of cumulative closure. On the bill, a multitude of films waiting to be programmed, 400 works having accumulated during the pandemic. “It may be complicated for certain already fragile films to find their audience or to be distributed. But there will be a lot of new films every week, a paradise for film lovers!” Louis Merle (on the right in the photo), general manager at Multiciné, manages with his brother Samuel (on the left) and his father three Art et Essai cinemas in Paris, the Lincoln, the 7 Parnassiens and the 5 Caumartin. Also a member of the board of directors and treasurer of the association of Independent Parisian Cinemas (CIP), he remains optimistic: “I’m hopeful for the future. And then, we’re lucky to have a regular clientele!”

What are the health measures imposed and put in place for this reopening?

From May 19, we will be able to receive 35% of spectators compared to our total capacity, i.e. one seat out of 3. It’s a bit of a disaster for small rooms like us who go having to refuse from the public. We are going to encourage people to book, but it won’t be an obligation because a lot of spectators come on a whim. On June 9, we go to 65% of our reception capacity and on July 1, if all goes well, back to normal with a gauge at 100%. A safety distance of 1m50 between each person will be required and the mandatory mask in the room and on the premises. We also “took advantage” of the closure to undertake renovation work. The toilets and the two rooms in the basement have been completely redone.

The sale of confectionery remains prohibited. For us who have a more targeted Arthouse audience, it’s boring but not catastrophic. At Lincoln, the cash desk opens directly onto the street and at 7 Parnassien, where there is a garden, this will be authorized. People will be able to eat outside, At 5 Caumartin, the configuration does not lend itself to it.

Choices will have to be made! The first week, we will reschedule a number of works that we had on view during the closing: Goodbye idiots by Albert Dupontel, DNA by Maïwenn or Michelangelo by Andrei Konchalovsky. Normally there are about fifteen new releases a week, there we go to almost 40 films, and some very good ones. Regarding the release schedule, we have visibility at least until the end of 2021. Depending on the releases each week, we schedule this or that film, in agreement with the distributors, depending on what is being played. Around.

When the gauges go back to normal, it’s going to be the orgy of cinema, it’s madness.

Louis Merle, Managing Director of Multiciné

Two days before the reopening last year, I was with my brother in front of 5 Caumartin. A regular came by, we brought her in and then we went to a room. She was so happy that she cried with emotion! Spectators massively told us how happy they were to be back in the dark rooms, it was quite incredible, they even applauded at the start of the films. We are quite confident, we will see this summer, but it is likely that the real restart will be in September.

I’m hopeful because last year, when we reopened from June to October, it went very well. The summer was calm, because after a hard confinement where people had been extremely constrained when it came to going out, everyone wanted to go to the terrace or stroll in the open air. And then in September, it started again. Many people were refused. We had a very good autumn, as far as possible with a gauge of 65% and despite the insane competition from multiplexes. For lack of blockbusters, they programmed the French films and authors who constitute our programming. At 5 Caumartin, there aren’t too many cinemas in the immediate vicinity, but in Montparnasse where there are 32 cinemas, when UGC and Gaumont offer the same films as us, it’s complicated. There, we hope that the blockbusters will come back quickly!

The 5 Caumartins

Are you worried about the future?

We are quite confident because many people are contacting us via social networks to make sure that we open on May 19 and to inquire about the programming. The big question everyone asks me is: “Not too worried that the public has gotten used to Video on Demand (VOD)? » With each evolution, TV, DVD, VCR, internet, downloading, we have buried the cinema. But we have always bounced back and reinvented ourselves. 2019 was our best year for cinema in 50 years.

The cinema is an outing with friends or family, we take the opportunity to go to the restaurant. It’s a place where you can also come alone, chat with the team or with other spectators. At home, we are easily parasitized by the outside, the telephone. It is not the same thing to see a film on a cinema screen and on a television or a tablet. In a room, we are immersed in the dark, enveloped in sound, the image is large, the seats are comfortable, it’s an immersive, artistic experience!

What are the upcoming events?

We will continue to organize events such as previews, festivals, debates, meetings, but adapted to the measures. I like to bring speakers, it is very important that everyone can have their say within the limits of freedom of expression and legality.

Next, we will present the Lebanese film festival in October at the Lincoln; at 5 Caumartin, an event on diving, another on Russian cinema, the Brazil festival in October as well,… Every 1st Monday of the month and when the gauge drops to 65%, we will resume our short film festival ” It’s not the size that matters.” Normally, it brings together almost 400 people, it’s a hit! We had laureates who the following year received a Caesar, it’s very gratifying.

You manage the 5 Caumartin, the 7 Parnassiens and the Lincoln with your brother and your father, can you tell us the genesis of this beautiful family story?

My great-grandfather, a Russian immigrant who fled the revolution, was a cinema enthusiast. In the 1930s, the 7th art was booming and it opened its first establishment. It worked well, he found other premises and opened several venues in Paris. At 5 Caumartin, for example, it was a garage.

Today, there are 3 left, the Lincoln, the 5 Caumartins and the 7 Parnassiens. Cinema is often a family affair and a profession of passion. Especially Art and Essay doesn’t make you a billionaire! I had a first professional career in a completely different field, but it lacked meaning. Two years ago, knowing that my father was retiring this year, I joined the family. My brother Samuel manages the artistic part, the programming, and I have more managerial experience. We complement each other well!

The 7 Parnassians cinema

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