|Montmartre's local moviehouse|
And then there’s the Fête du Cinéma, which runs - nationwide - from June 25 to July 1 this year. An entire week of movies. This event has been going on now for 27 years! It started two years after the Nuit de la Musique, and was created by the same team led by Culture Minister Jack Lang.
When it began in 1985, the Fête du Cinéma was only one day long. Movie theaters were stormed by so many people jostling in line that additional shows had to be added on at the end of the day, keeping theater doors open well past midnight in order to avoid a riot! No one ever expected it to be such a success.
Until 1992 the Festival was held on a Thursday in late June, once school exams were over, because young people make up a large share of French movie-goers. About 1.8 million tickets were sold in that one day. Which made the organizers rethink the concept. One day was obviously too short - and especially too frantic! - so it became a three-day festival running Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Sales jumped to 2.8 million tickets. They knew they were on to something. The Culture Ministry was beaming and everyone in the movie industry was overjoyed.
From 1993 to 2008, between 3 and 4 million tickets were sold each year. The event became so popular that blockbuster movies such as Matrix and Shrek 2 were scheduled to start during the Festival. Finally in 2009 the Fête du Cinéma was extended to one full week - Saturday through the following Friday - so that even more people could enjoy the benefits of cheap tickets. And as movies change on Wednesdays in France, that means you have double the movies to choose from. That decision added up to 4.6 million tickets sold and movies watched.
Here’s how it works.
You go to a movie theater and you buy a ticket, even a ticket with a reduction (student, senior, unemployed, etc, etc). With your ticket, you get a Film Festival Card. And that card will get you into any and all other movies for the entire week for only 3 € a show! Given that most first-run movies cost about 8-10 € and you can see several a day - from 10 am to past midnight - that’s a big savings!
And with 79 movie houses in Paris alone - some with multiple screens - that’s also a whole lot of films to choose from!