On the Champs-Elysées, shunned by Parisians, cinemas are fighting not to be wiped off the map


“Investing on the Champs is scary,” says Louis Merle, co-director of the Multiciné cinema network (including the Elysées Lincoln). On the “most beautiful avenue in the world”, cinema attendance is experiencing a dizzying decline. According to figures from the company Comscore, published by the specialized media Le Film Français , 4.26 million spectators attended a screening on the Champs-Elysées in 2001. Two decades later, this figure has clearly weakened: 572,000 visited its theaters in 2023, or almost eight times fewer.

And for good reason: nine cinemas have closed since the 1990s. The Gaumont Marignan, the UGC George-V and the Gaumont Champs-Elysées Ambassade are the latest to have gone out of business. ” It’s a vicious circle. The closure of one theater is bad news for all the others,” observes Michel Gomez, delegate of the cinema mission to the City of Paris.

The drop in attendance is partly explained by the closure of these establishments. But also by the drop in the number of spectators in theaters still in operation. According to Comscore, the Balzac cinema went from 185,000 to 115,000 annual spectators between 2008 and 2023. The UGC Normandie, which has the most admissions on the avenue, lost nearly 310,000 annual visitors between 2012 and 2023, a drop of 34%. How can we explain this desertion?

Inhospitable avenue

“It’s not that Parisians no longer want to go to the cinema. The main reason is that they no longer want to go to the Champs-Elysées,” says Louis Merle. “They have moved to other places where you can dine without spending all your PEA [Equity Savings Plan] , ” he quips. Les Champs has become a luxury open-air shopping center. » The cinemas are not the only emblematic businesses on the avenue to have ceased their activity. The Virgin Megastore closed its doors in 2013, the Pizza Pino restaurant in 2021. Luxury stores, restaurant chains and office spaces illustrate the now strictly commercial orientation of the avenue.

In the opinion of several theater operators, it has become inhospitable. “It is deserted by Parisians and movie buffs. We don’t expect tourists who come to the Louis Vuitton store to spend a visit to the cinema,” observes Corinne Honliasso, director of the Le Balzac arthouse cinema.

The developments on the avenue would not be adapted to the lifestyle of the capital’s residents. “There are a lot of cars, a lot of traffic, the cycle paths are paved. It’s an urban highway that doesn’t make you want to wander around,” says Louis Merle. To make Parisians want to return to the Champs, a transformation plan – the work of which was spread over two phases – was initiated by the City of Paris and the Champs-Elysées Committee. Thirty million euros were invested in 2022 to beautify the Champs-Elysées gardens, renovate the upper part of the avenue, redo the paving and pedestrian crossings.

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