In a sad record, a real disaster, the number of admissions into theatres absolutely plummeted. You have to go back to 1980 to find similar figures.
Of course we were expecting a drop-off, but not a fall of more than 30%. The summer of 2022 had fewer viewers overall than that of 2021, even though the latter was hindered by the need for a vaccination certificate.
It's important to bear in mind that box-office receipts are the foundation of the French model that so many countries envy. The big films, especially American ones, partly fund art-house cinema through the tax levied on tickets (TSA)*. This is an effective and virtuous form of redistribution so long as audiences watch both major and small films.
That is no longer the case. The blockbusters are still going strong but there are fewer of them, while auteur cinema is struggling to hang on.
As for why fewer people are going to watch art-house cinema, the disgruntled mention rampant inflation, lower purchasing power, the pandemic, video platforms and TV series among the reasons.
They don't ask whether their films are part of the problem.
They don't wonder much about the way society and habits are changing, and even less about the quality of the work, with ill-thought out screenplays and productions put together rather haphazardly.
It is important to ask why most people aged between 15 and 40 are not embracing the forms and stories of French films. If you pose these questions, you get called populist and a sell-out.
All studies show that the people who go to watch French films are ageing, and dying without being replaced. The ministry of culture has to do much more to attract young people, but reversing the trend will be no simple matter.
If auteur cinema is doing badly, it's also because there are fewer big Hollywood movies.
Apart from Black Panther and, of course, Avatar: The Way of Water by James Cameron, whose latest triumph has had people flooding into cinemas after 13 years of suspense and will do a power of good to French independent film-makers, the problem is the whole ambiguity of our cinema and the way it carries itself.
Avatar (2009), the biggest box-office success of all time with 2.7 billion dollars earned worldwide, took the title off Titanic (1997), which made 2.2 billion!
So, is it right to object steadfastly to an invasive, globalised and digitised industry that French cinema deems to be too formulaic even though Hollywood movies keep it afloat and help it to survive?
Should French cinema be in a wave of indignation at the prospect of a remake of Titanic?
As this new year begins, let us instead join Rose and Jack Dawson in singing, at the top of our lungs, My Heart Will Go On.
DC Audiovisuel would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful new year. Let's hope that after a year of people putting their feet up at home, next year will see more people head out to the flicks.
* Titanic and Avatar alone, counting only theatre admissions (TSA), have financed French cinema for more than 35 million euros.