Cannes Unveils Major Development and Expansion Plans

Cannes Film Festival General - Getty - H 2019
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The Côte d'Azur city announced a $556 million project to renovate the Palais des Festivals, build a film museum and become an "audiovisual Silicon Valley."

Cannes mayor David Lisnard and a host of French movie moguls were on hand at a Paris event this week to unveil a multifaceted project to renovate the home of the Cannes Film Festival and build a new industry epicenter on the Côte d’Azur, or an "audiovisual Silicon Valley."

Entitled “Cannes on Air,” the project, currently budgeted at €500 million ($556 million), would include enlarging the Palais des Festivals that has been the heart of the world’s most famous film festival and market, MIPCOM, CanneSeries, Cannes Lions and other events since it opened in the early 1980s. Plans include adding another floor to the existing building that would house a 500-seat theater and renovating the Salon des Ambassadeurs. The cost is estimated at €62 million ($69 million).

The project, unveiled during a meeting held at the CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée) in Paris, also calls for the creation of an international film museum that could open by 2025 — at a cost of €200 million, or $223 million — and would be dedicated to the history of moviemaking, the Cannes festival and special effects, as well as the construction of a state-of-the-art 12-screen multiplex cinema that would house the biggest screen in southwestern France, with 2,426 seats.

Baptized Cineum Cannes, the cinema will open in June 2020 in the heart of a technology park to be known as “Bastide Rouge” that will be built west of the city. The park will feature a brand new university dedicated to film, television, video games and web creation whose campus could welcome up to 1,200 students annually.

“In the audiovisual world there’s an enormous demand for content on multiple platforms,” the mayor said at the CNC. “We want to become the European capital of the writing craft and a spawning ground for new talents.” Lisnard announced that €175 million ($195 million) of the total €500 million budget has been raised or committed thus far.

Attendees at the meeting included Canal Plus Group head Maxime Saada, Gaumont general director Sidonie Dumas, Arte France president Véronique Cayla, Federation Entertainment topper Pascal Breton (TV series Marseille and The Bureau), media and hotel magnate Stéphane Courbit and César awards president Alain Terzian.

“It’s not an accident that we’re all here together at the CNC,” the mayor explained. “By bringing so many experts to the table, we are making the legitimacy of our project a reality.”