regulatory function : regulations for the installation of multiplexes

Article 14 of the law no. 96-603 of 5 July 1996 concerning the development and promotion of trade and crafts introduced a licensing system prior to issuing any building permit for cinema facilities with a large seating capacity, using the model of installation permits for supermarkets. This legislative system was the object of three amendments in 1998, 2001 and 2003. From now on, the legislative system for installing cinema facilities is set out in articles 36-1 to 36-6 of the law no.73-1193 of 27 December 1973.

The articles subject the creation of a group of cinemas with over 300 seats, resulting from either a new building or the conversion of an existing building, to prior approval by departmental committees of cinema facilities (CDEC).
The CDEC must also approve any extension of a complex that has already reached the 300-seat limit or would exceed it by carrying out the project, except when these extensions :


  • concern less than 30% of the existing seating
  • or are done more than five years after start of business or the last extension.

Finally, the CDEC must approve any extension of a complex running for more than five years that has already reached the limit of 1500 seats, or would exceed it by carrying out the project.

These specific committees rule on applications to create multiplexes, which are accompanied by a study on the project’s foreseeable impact. The installation must meet the requirements of urban planning, environmental protection and town planning quality. Before deciding, these committees must very specifically study the catchment area concerned by the multiplex, taking into account the following criteria :


  • overall supply and demand for films shown in cinemas in the relevant catchment area : cinema attendance observed in the area by comparison with the national average for attendance, situation of the competition, access of films to cinemas, access of cinemas to films
  • the density of cinema facilities in this area type and composition of the cinemas
  • the project’s potential effect on cinema attendance, on exhibition venues in the catchment area and on the right balance between the various forms of film shows offered
  • the preservation of sufficient cultural and economic events for urban life and the balance between towns
  • investments in facilities and modernization done in the catchment area and recent changes, as well as modernization investments in progress and the project’s impact on these investments
  • compliance with any programming commitments signed in application of article 90 of the law no. 82-652 of 29 July 1982 on television advertising
  • the projected programming for the entity referred to in the licence application
  • relations with film exhibition facilities in the concerned area
  • the project’s architectural quality

The contribution such facilities make to achieving a better balance between the town centre and priority urban renewal areas is also taken into consideration. Like the committees for commercial facilities, the CDEC are made up of elected representatives, representatives from trade and consumer associations, as well as a member of the advisory committee on film distribution.
They are chaired by the prefect and the draft project report is done by the DRAC with the help of the relevant CNC departments.

Decisions made by the CDEC may be subject to appeal with the national commercial facilities committees (CNEC), assisted for the purpose by three members competent in film and cultural issues.
When it intervenes, the national committee re-examines the five criteria that the CDEC have studied.
It therefore systematically observes all the urban areas concerned by one or more installations.