Serial Killer of cinema


Monday, July 4, 2005, I welcome three new trainees to the Acquisitions Department of TF1. These privileged people were selected from hundreds of candidates. To break the ice, I ask them to tell me their favorite movies. They look at me sideways and wonder if this is a trap where there will be only one, like the “poles” of Koh Lanta. The bravest of the three throws himself into the water and confesses that he has applied to take care of American series and not movies. This is the first time in my life that I hear that! Previously, I had to “sacrifice” an unfortunate trainee dreaming of rhinestones and stars to take care of our TV series. That morning, I realised that a big bang had taken place and that I was a little responsible: we had successfully broadcast on TF1 “Dawson’s creek”, “Experts”, “Gray’s anatomy”, “Heroes And “Lost”.

The series have both conquered their nobility and a new generation of spectators. Admittedly, there were some warning signs with “Dallas”, “Emergencies” or “X Files” but the revolution really began when the American pay channel HBO put everything on the series to distinguish themselves in 1990 by creating ” Dream on “,” Sex and the city “,” Sopranos “,” Six feet under “” The wire “,” Band of brothers “and the incredible success” Game of thrones “. HBO opened a gap by proving that we could produce series that combine quality, originality and profitability.

From now on, the series is no longer a shameful pleasure, on the contrary. Not only do you accept his taste for the series but you claim his choices as a fan: “You do not know False flag? “,” Did not you see Homeland Season 6? “,” I can not let you say Vikings are better than Game of thrones “. Ignoring the existence of certain series has become more silly than not having read Proust. Some series are so addictive that between two seasons, aficionados look like missing junkies. No wonder the series has become the spearhead of the production and dissemination activities of the networks and the GAFAM Trojan to enter homes.

But the question that arises today, at the time when the Cannes Film Festival, the world film market, and the Los Angeles Screenings, the world series market, are closing, is: the series is the serial killer of cinema ?

The series has advantages over cinema:

– Money: a low cost, or almost zero for the public thanks to subscriptions SVOD, Replay and … piracy while cinema theaters remains perceived as expensive despite the cards, discounts and … piracy.

– Time: the explosion of consumption in “ATAWAD: AnyTime, AnyWhere, Any Device” mode allows you to enjoy, at any time, anywhere and on any medium, several hours of fiction per day. The series are adapted to this fragmented view.

– The taste: a better audiovisual culture and a sophistication of the tastes of the public favor the series with characters with the psychology more searched and more immersive universes, like the video games.

– The singularity: by “serializing” films with “sequels”, “prequels” and “spin of” for marketing and financial reasons and by adapting excessively existing heritage, the feature film has lost its status as a work original and unique. Originality has rocked the side of the series.

Can the public’s appetite for fiction be quenched only by the series at the expense of the movies?

This question arises for any form of art: can the thirst for beauty be quenched by painting to the detriment of sculpture? Can the thirst for music be quenched by recordings at the expense of concerts? History proves that it is never nothing and that there is cohabitation provided that each genre plays with its own strengths.

At a time when Netflix wants to remove the passage of movies in cinemas, do not forget that the “cinematograph” is originally a fairground attraction. The experience of the hall remains the matrix of the cinema.

Two statistics of the CNC to be convinced of it:

1) 50% of people choose to go to the cinema before choosing the movie they will see. 2) 50% of the audience only frequents one room and limits their choice of films to the offer of this room.

Going to the cinema is a social step that follows a logic of consumption different from the series. The feature film is a work that appreciates collectively and simultaneously to share the memory. Behind the debate of e-cinema and theatrical release, lies an editorial issue. If the cinema is no longer distinguished from the series by its format, 100 minutes against 1000 minutes, it will die because it will lose all prestige and will be cannibalized by other forms of fiction: a book of 100 pages or a book of 1000 pages remain a book, nothing differs them.

(Translated from French).