– Stable investments worth €1.11 billion conceal a contraction of French financing; French cinematic productions include 116 international co-productions with 34 countries
Bergman Island by Mia Hansen-Løve
In a context where activity has practically ground to a halt (with cinemas closed, shoots interrupted, post-production at best extremely slow, and very little visibility regarding potential short-term changes) due to the worldwide health crisis, the 2019 report on French cinematic production published by the CNC will no doubt mark a turning point from film production pre-Covid-19 to film production post-Covid-19. Indeed, the report exposes both the very solid foundations which will allow the French film industry to rebound after the storm, as well as the tensions that have animated the financing side of film production (in particular TV production) for several years. A tendency which surely won’t facilitate the handling of current major difficulties (as producers seek an intervention from the state in order to benefit from more flexible insurance policies) despite the strong measures already taken by public authorities (read the news).
With 301 feature films approved in 2019, including 240 films of French initiative (FIF – three more than in 2018) and 61 minority productions (two fewer than in the previous year), French film production in 2019 beat its previous record (300 features in 2017, 2015 and 2018), as well as that of the previous decade in terms of FIFs. It is worth pointing out that the renewal of talents is still very much in place (feature debuts and second features represent 51.7% of FIFs produced), that 56 documentaries of French initiative were produced (a record for the last 25 years) and 10 animated feature films approved in 2019 (including 5 FIFs).
Regarding the financing of French film production in 2019, investments remained globally stable, at €1.116 billion (- 0.8 % from 2018). However, the pledges in films of French initiative continue to decrease (- 5.6 % last year, at €903M), in particular due to the sharp decline in French fundings of FIFs (- 7,8% at €820.92M). Consequently, the amount pledged into FIFs continues its decline, reaching €3.76M. An increasing number of feature films have a budget under €4M (161 FIFs in 2019, 148 in the previous year) and the number of productions under €1M continues to increase (74 FIFs in 2019). It is worth noting however that it is the intermediary budgets (between €4M and €7M) that are under pressure, since the share of quotes higher than €7M has also increased (36 FIFs, which is 3 more than in 2018).
The analysis of financing sources shows a shrinkage (-11% at €130.28M) of investments issued from mandates (distribution in cinemas, video releases and international sales) which have not been this low in ten years. In the same way, public financing (from the CNC and the regions) has decreased by 8.1 % to €81.62M. However, after a very severe decrease in 2018, investments from television channels have only decreased by 3% last year, to €273M, which were spent on 171 films (153 FIFs and 16 minority productions).
A historical pillar of the financing of French cinema, Canal+ continues to be worrisome, as its investments have again decreased by 6.9% to €106.23M (for 120 films, including 109 FIFs) while the amount of its pre-purchases reached €194.57M in 2010. Regarding other pay TV channels, OCS has pledged €26.32M in investments (for 41 feature films including 40 FIFs) and Ciné+ has spent €18.73M (for 124 films including 112 FIFs).
The financing from free access TV channels has remained stable, with a total of €121.9M and 108 films financed (including 99 FIFs), via TF1 (€22.7M on 8 films), France 2 (€33.18M for 35 titles), France 3 (€22.38M for 32 films), M6 (€25.94M for 12 films), Arte France (€9M for 23 feature films). Recent free-to-view channels of the TNT have invested €8.4M for 30 prebought films (including 29 FIFs), with 11 films for W9, 10 for TMC, 6 for C8 and 5 for TFX.
Finally, the French film industry remains very open to the rest of the world, with 116 international co-productions in 2019 with 35 foreign countries: 61 French majority productions (two fewer than in the previous year) and 55 minority productions (the same as in 2018). Last year, the main foreign partners of French cinema were Belgium (34 FIFs and 9 minority productions), Germany (14 FIFs and 16 minority productions), Italy (4 FIFs and 15 minority productions), Switzerland (4 FIFs and 6 minority productions) and Spain (2 FIFs and 5 minority productions). It is worth noting as well that in 2019 brought three French minority productions with Greece, three with Poland and three with Portugal.
(Translated from French)
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301 feature films produced by France in 2019