Country Focus: France
The CNC curbs “disproportionate artistic costs”
by Fabien Lemercier
- Having been kicked-started at the end of 2012 by the fiery Vincent Maraval (Wild Bunch – read the news), the debate on the profitability of French films, revenue transparency and the inflationary tendencies seen with certain artistic remunerations (read the article) has finally resulted in an initial series of technical measures adopted by the CNC, following a long consultation with French film-industry professionals fuelled by the Bonnell report (read the article).
The sophisticated system used for funding French cinema (which is highly coveted all around the world) – including the CNC’s automatic and selective support that redistributes the profits arising from the different requirements that all distributors of the seventh art (theatres, video, televised services) are forced to adhere to – will now encompass several conditions to restrict the highest remunerations given to lead actors, authors, directors and producers (indeed, certain artists sometimes carry out all of these activities at the same time).
A sliding scale and certain ceilings have been put in place according to a film’s budget. For a budget estimated at under €4 million, the highest remuneration must not exceed 15% of the production cost. This percentage falls to 8% for movies of between €4 million and €7 million, and to 5% for productions of between €7 million and €10 million. Lastly, for a budget of over €10 million, the ceiling has been set at €990,000. Producers remain free to negotiate higher remuneration amounts, but if they do so, they will no longer be able to benefit from the CNC’s advance on receipts, nor invest their available automatic support into the film in question. Interestingly, the percentages negotiated by artists based on a movie’s potential takings are obviously not affected by this prior salary cap.
With the exception of artistic agents, French film-industry associations have come out in support of this regulation, which is being incorporated into a broader project focusing on enhancing transparency among distributors, producers, co-producers and authors. A set of technical improvements to the system managed by the CNC is already in the pipeline for the production and distribution sectors: these modifications will be included in a draft bill that the Parliament is due to review at the end of the first quarter 2015. After that, the CNC as well as the professional bodies will move on to address measures likely to optimise theatrical exhibition.