The dark rooms, which some consider too expensive, hope to bring back the public for the Film Festival, from Sunday to Wednesday, with its places at four euros for all. The operation will be an opportunity to strengthen the success of films already released, such as Elvis or Jurassic World: The World After, will benefit a novelty such as Irréductible by Jérôme Commandeur and hopes to restore the desire to see auteur films , such as Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave, presented at Cannes and released on Wednesday. It is clear that many spectators have still not found their way back to theaters: “We are fighting against a single enemy, the sofa, which is free !” explains Aurélie Delage, the manager of the Megarama de Garat, near Angoulême. According to the latest figures from the CNC, French cinemas, one of the densest networks in the world, sold 62 million tickets in the first five months of the year. That is attendance down by a third compared to 2019, a record year before the pandemic, and by 20% compared to previous ones. Cinemas are saved by a handful of blockbusters: Top Gun: Maverick, which exceeded 3, 8 million admissions, ahead of the superheroes of Doctor Strange and Batman… “It’s the show that will make the public want to come to the cinema again”, discounts Marc-Olivier Sebbag, the general delegate of the National Federation of Cinemas French (FNCF), which observes a “gradual recovery” in attendance.”Cinema is not a luxury, but…”But, at European level, the International Union of Cinemas (Unic), an association which represents cinemas and estimated their loss of income at 19 billion euros due to the Covid, is already worried about inflation: “One of the main reasons for not returning to the cinema is the rising cost of living”, she has just pointed out in her annual report. A hot topic in France too, where the full price, lower six euros in public cinemas in Seine-Saint-Denis, can exceed 15 euros for a 3D session in Paris, more than a subscription to an online video service and its unlimited catalog. Not to mention, outside the cities, gasoline to go to the cinema. A survey commissioned by the National Center for Cinematography and the Moving Image (CNC) to understand the drop in attendance, and unveiled during the Cannes Film Festival , confirmed it: beyond the “loss of habit” of going to the cinema, the reason most often indicated is the price of tickets, the lack of interest in films and competition from platforms which slow down the ardor of the French. “Financial reasons are the first for which one renounces a leisure expense”, explains to AFP the director general of Credoc, Sandra Hoibian. “Cinema is not a luxury product, but there is still a budgetary question”, especially for young people and families. Exhibitors insist that most tickets purchased in France are at reduced prices , three-quarters of the seats being sold for less than 7 euros. And that the cinema remains the least expensive outing, in comparison with the theater, the stadium or the concerts. The halls explain that they don’t really have a choice. The four-euro tickets for the Film Festival are “a welcome gift, an exceptional price” which cannot be maintained in the medium term, underlines Mr. Sebbag. Aurélie Delage, she only earns “a few tens of centimes” on a place, and sees with concern climbing the raw materials, including the electricity of the projectors and the air conditioning. To lower their costs, some cinemas are even thinking of eliminating less frequented screenings, such as the one at 10 p.m.