European Art Cinema Day Expands as Local Theaters Battle Netflix

Courtesy of European Art Cinema Day
European Art Cinema Day ambassadors Alice Rohrwacher, Christian Petzold and Michel Ocelot

Admissions for the event, which promotes arthouse cinema on the big screen, were up 34 percent from last year.

The third edition of European Art Cinema Day, held last Sunday, was bigger than ever before as cinema fans came out in full force to support their local theaters. The event aims to highlight European film and champion the work of arthouse cinemas on the continent and beyond.

The event featured over 200 European films in 650 independent cinemas across 39 countries around the world. Box office admissions increased 34 percent over last year, with 80,000 tickets sold in total. The number of cinemas hosting directors, producers and talent also increased, with 80 special events held over the course of one day.

Among the special events, European Art Cinema Day ambassador Michel Ocelot presented his film, Dilili in Paris, at the Louxor cinema in Paris, and ambassador Christian Petzold hosted a screening of Transit at Berlin’s Yorck Kino. Matteo Garrone presented Dogman (winner of best actor in Cannes this year) at the London Film Festival, with a Q&A live-streamed to cinemas around the U.K.

Several countries joined the event for the first time, including Canada, Colombia, Ireland, Iran, the Netherlands and the U.S. Ocelot said that, while it's nice to watch a movie at home, "Cinema is a magical place," where "cell phones must be turned off."

The event is organized by CICAE (International Confederation of Art Cinemas), the umbrella organization of 10 national arthouse cinema associations, in partnership with Europa Cinemas. CICAE represents 4,000 screens via their associations, as well as independent cinemas in 27 other countries, film festivals and a number of distributors.

The increase in support this year is particularly notable as independent cinemas continue to call for more regulations of online streamers. CICAE called for a ban on Netflix films in Venice this year, arguing that competition slots should be reserved for films that will be seen in international cinemas. Alfonso Cuaron’s Netflix film, Roma, took home the festival's top prize, the Golden Lion, upsetting many local exhibitors who may not be in a position to show the film in theaters — specifically in France where windows are highly regulated.

CICAE president Detlef Rossmann told The Hollywood Reporter that the call for a ban was effective for raising awareness about the issue that independent cinemas in Europe now face. "The debate around the media chronology intensified following the re-launching of the discussion about banning Netflix films from the official competitions of A-category festivals," he said. "We were making a statement on behalf of cinemas and filmmakers to draw attention to the fact that modifying the market, for the sake of a few big players who can allow themselves to not play by the rules, because they can financially afford it, is not a proper way of going about things."

Regulations on streamers in Europe have already been approved to require companies, like Netflix and Amazon, to have a minimum of 30 percent European content, meaning more investments in the local film industries. "This is an encouraging sign from our political leaders. We would like to see them endorsing the statutory windows, which would also be in the interest of movies distributed internationally, which could this way benefit from the best and longest cycle of exhibition, going through the different platforms in a specific order," said Rossmann.

"European Art Cinema Day valorizes cinemas as meeting points in local communities and for their everyday commitment to their audiences," said Rossmann. "It's an opportunity to show the rich cultural diversity of European filmmakers and their creative work."

"It says that cinema is alive and vibrant, with a great potential for dynamic new forms of audience development to evolve," he continued. "If this message speaks to Netflix, they will have more respect for the big screen."