The Fédération Nationale des Cinémas Français and the government have agreed to reduce the window between theatrical film releases and their debut on other platforms.
Under the two-year deal, films will be available on pay-per-view video-on-demand just four months after their theatrical release, compared with seven and half months under current rules. The move brings VOD in line with DVD releases.
It is thought that a VOD release could be delayed for three months if a film has failed to attract must interest during its theatrical release.
The new release pattern will also reduce the windows for pay-TV services, which will now get titles after a year, and free-to-air broadcasters, who will get them after 22 months rather than two year or more.
The deal will be written into law within the week and its impact on the industry will be monitored every six months.
Release windows in France are overseen by the government and the industry. The new deal has been supported by exhibitors, distributors, directors, producers, TV networks, including TF1 and Canal Plus, as well as telecoms company such as Orange and SFR. However, publishers association SEVN and filmmakers union ARP have not signed.
The new strategy aims to offer attractive and legal alternatives to illegal filesharing sites. It follows the controversial Internet and Creation Law, which will restrict internet use of persistent copyright infringers. It is currently going through French parliament.
It is understood that French exhibitors may receive compensation for agreeing to the shorter theatrical release windows, and it is thought that the industry has received reassurances from Frédéric Mitterrand, the country’s new Minster of Culture, and Veronique Cayla, general director of Centre National De La Cinématographie, that other concessions will be made to the industry. The FNCF is already thought to be in talks with the government over reducing the purchase cost of films.
Mitterrand is also reported to have promised that further initiatives, such as tax reductions on DVD sales and VOD services, are under consideration.