French Film Industry Unloads on Tax-Dodging Harry Potter Premiere

Warner Bros. accused of not respecting France's 'communal cup'

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If you're one of the 8,000 people going to the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow: Part II at the Bercy arena in Paris next month, be warned: the movie you're going to see cheats on its taxes.

That's the position being taken by the leading voices in the French film industry, including the Society of Film Directors (SRF), L'ARP (the "association of French film professionals," which includes writers, actors, and producers), the National Cinema Centre (CNC, basically the French equivalent of the MPAA) and Agency for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema (Acid). They're mad that France's usual tax on movie tickets (which in turn makes its way back to the country's film industry in the form of government subsidies) isn't being added on to the price of tickets for the premiere.

Melanie Goodfellow at Screen Daily explained the tricky (and highly European) dynamics that are in play

French cinema tickets are normally subject to a 17% tax, 10% of which goes to France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC), which then redistributes the proceeds to the film industry in the form of subsidies. Tickets sold for the Bercy premiere will be subject instead to value added tax of some 19%.

In a statement, SRF and Acid pounded studio Warner Bros. for scheduling an event expected to generate "takings of €200,000" at a venue that "deprive[s] the CNC of tax usually levied on each ticket sold in a theatre to feed the 'communal cup' and support French cinema in its entirety, from production to exhibition."

Our question: if the cup is so communal, why does it matter whether the tickets are assessed a 19 percent sales tax or 17 percent cinema tax? It seems like Harry and his wizard friends aren't so much dodging taxes as they are paying one that does not directly benefit the French film industry. But it's not like they're General Electric.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.