How much does a cinema ticket really cost in France? (Investigation)

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While streaming platforms are doing well, cinema exhibitors miss the good old days. The French go much less to the cinema. In September 2022, attendance fell by 34.7% compared to 2019 according to the CNC.

Covid effect? Yes for 38% of respondents who, in a May 2022 CNC survey, say they have lost the habit of going to the cinema. Competition from streaming platforms? Yes, for 26% of respondents. If there’s one argument the movie industry doesn’t want to hear about, it’s price. Yet 33% of people questioned by the CNC answer that the high tariffs are a brake.

Erwan Escoubet, the director of regulatory and institutional affairs of the National Federation of French Cinemas, assures his side that the price of places has not increased as much as one imagines. He also claims that only 13% of tickets sold are worth more than 10 euros.

The cinema ticket at 7 euros: a lie?

According to the latest study by the Center National du Cinéma, the average price of a place in France in 2021 was 7.04 euros (and even 6.68 euros in Brittany). The daily Release demonstrated that the price of a cinema ticket has increased less rapidly than inflation and that it therefore cost less in 2021 than in 1990 (in proportion to salaries).

In an interview with Capital, Marc Olivier Sebbag, general delegate of the National Federation of French Cinemas, “70% of people who go to the cinema pay below this price”.

In order to explain the discrepancy between the reality of prices and the perception that we have of them, it is necessary to provide details on the calculation method of the National Cinema Center.

The CNC recorded all the tickets sold, regardless of their origin. Promotional offers, subscriptions, multiple cards and Works Council tickets (sold by works councils) are taken into account in the same way as tickets sold individually. Erwan Escoubet recognizes this himself: “In France, we have a huge variety of reduced rates and subscriptions, limited, unlimited, cinema vouchers, tickets sold by works councils…”.

This subtlety represents the main problem of this study. It does not give the average price of a cinema ticket, but the average price of tickets sold. This creates a gap between the figure put forward by the CNC and the perception of a high price for the viewer.

To see more clearly, we therefore investigated in order to establish the average price excluding promotions and subscriptions. The price of a “dry” ticket, as professionals in the sector say.

Download the full study here

Calculation methodology

We selected the 20 most populated cities in France (according to the 2019 census) in order to obtain a sufficiently representative panel. The 20 cities selected are therefore Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nice, Nantes, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lille, Rennes, Reims, Toulon, Saint-Etienne, Le Havre, Grenoble, Dijon, Angers, Saint-Denis and Villeurbanne , a population of 5,792,268.

We therefore do not count the potential spectators traveling from the suburbs of these cities to go to the cinemas. This study also does not take into account viewers of cinemas located in rural areas. Firstly because cinemas there are becoming increasingly rare and spectators increasingly have to go to the big cities to go to the cinema.

To find the cinemas in each city, we went to the allocine.fr site which lists almost all French cinemas. We supplemented with searches on Google, on the sites of exhibitors and other directories in the event that a room was not listed on allocine.fr.

We then categorized them as follows:

  • Pathe
  • Gaumont
  • MK2
  • UGC
  • CGR
  • Other multiplexes
  • Independents/Arthouse

When there were several cinemas in the same category, we calculated an average of the ticket price at the standard rate. Subscription formulas, special tickets (young, senior, in demand for activity), CE places and promotional offers have not been taken into account.

The cinema ticket in France costs well over 10 euros

According to our calculations, the cinema ticket in France (at the normal price) costs on average 11.28 euros. It is therefore much more than what the CNC announces. Only the average price in arthouses (7.15 euros) matches the average price announced by the CNC.

If French spectators have the impression that the prices are very high, it may also be because the large complexes are over-represented. These operators sell their tickets for a small fortune. At Pathé, for example, the price of a place in Paris varies between 13.60 euros and 14.77 euros. Don’t see it as a Parisian problem: in a medium-sized town like Dijon, a ticket to the Pathé cinema costs 14.50 euros!

cinema place price france

Average cost of a place per city, Study November 2022 © Presse-citron

The Pathé-Gaumont group is also the one that charges the most for the cinema session. On average, in the 20 cities studied, a seat in a Pathé cinema costs 13.84 euros, in a Gaumont 13.27 euros. The most “affordable” tickets are available in the CGR, where the average price is 10.67 euros.

If you want to go below the 10 euro mark, you will have to go to a multiplex that is not part of a large group. On average, the ticket price is 9.27 euros. But you will also not have the same experience depending on the film you are going to see.

The price soars in Paris Intramuralbut not only

Unsurprisingly, our study reveals that the price of cinema tickets in Paris Intramural flies away. In large complexes, it can reach 15.50 euros. The average rises to 12.07 euros including art house cinemas and 12.61 euros without.

Of the 20 cities in our sample, 12 have an average price of more than 10 euros and 19 an average price above 7 euros. The only survivor, an arthouse cinema in Villeurbanne, remains stalled at 7 euros stack.

Admittedly, the subscription formulas and promotional offers make it possible to reduce the bill… but they are by definition binding.

To make a monthly subscription profitable, for example, you have to go to the cinema at least twice a month (at best). Not to mention that some subscriptions imply a commitment of at least one year. This does not necessarily correspond to the uses of all.

In summary, in 2022, going to the cinema occasionally costs well over 10 euros.

The 10 cities where cinema tickets are the most expensive

If the average price in France is 11.28 euros, not all cities are in the same boat. Here are the 10 cities where the price of cinema tickets is the highest:

  • Paris (12.07€)
  • Nantes (€10.87)
  • Toulon (€10.80)
  • Angers (€10.80)
  • Marseilles (€10.75)
  • Lyons (€10.69)
  • Reindeer (10.65€)
  • Toulouse (€10.58)
  • Dijon (10.57€)
  • Montpellier / Nice (10.20€)
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