France to Help Cinemas Hit by Coronavirus Shutdown

MICHEL EULER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
French President Emmanuel Macron listens to a video conference call with European leaders and with the European Council President at the Elysee Palace on March 10, 2020 in Paris.

In addition to tax and debt relief, cinemas and film companies hit by the government's new restrictions on public events and gatherings will get earlier and faster access to state subsidies.

France has moved to help out film companies hurt by the coronavirus shutdown.

France's national cinema center, the CNC, on Wednesday outlined a series of programs aimed at assisting companies hit by government restrictions on public events and gatherings, moves taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

France has outlawed public gatherings of more than 1,000 people and shut down schools and universities in certain area. Theaters in particularly hard-hit regions have been forced to limit screenings to 50 percent capacity, keeping every second row free. Several industry events in France have been canceled, including television festival Series Mania in Lille and the MIPTV television market in Cannes.

CNC President Dominique Boutonnat said exhibitors, producers and distributors hit by the government restrictions who are eligible for state subsidies will be able to fast-track them, to bring forward payments to help cover current losses.

Exhibitors will also be able to defer paying France's movie ticket tax, the 10.72 percent surcharge on each movie ticket sold, which is split 20-80 between the CNC and the film's French producer.

A broader government relief plan covering all sectors will allow film companies to apply to defer paying their taxes and give them access to state-backed bridging loans.

France has been the country most impacted by COVID-19 after Italy, with some 1,784 confirmed cases of the illness to date and 33 deaths.