300 feature films produced by France in 2017
by Fabien Lemercier
- €1.32 billion were invested in French film productions last year, including 123 international co-productions with 48 countries
There were two main observations underlined by the president of the CNC, Frédérique Bredin, as she presented the 2017 annual review of French film production: a cinematic output marked by diversity, thanks particularly to the rude health of the category of so-called films du milieu, or mid-range arthouse films (which was cause for concern a few years ago), and the emergence of genre works (which, incidentally, will shortly be able to benefit from a specific form of support through the advance on receipts). She linked these positive outcomes more broadly to the beneficial effects of the film production approval reform (see the article) and the remarkable impact that the tax credits (see the news) are having on relocating shoots back to French soil.
With 300 features approved in 2017, 222 of which were films of French initiative (FIFs- one more than in 2016) and 78 of which were minority productions (16 more than the previous year, and the highest level observed for 20 years), French film production has equalled the record it set back in 2015. Interestingly, 25.5% of these movies were directed by women.
The average budget for FIFs stood at €4.9 million, and the number of them increased in the budgetary brackets of between €7 million and €15 million (37 features last year, as against 25 the previous year), between €4 million and €7 million (49 in 2017, as against 43 in 2016) and between €2 million and €4 million (52 last year, as against 43 the previous year). On the other hand, there was a drop in the number of very high-budget FIFs (12 films at more than €15 million in 2017, as against 15 in 2016) and those with the most modest budgets (72 films at less than €2 million, as against 95 the previous year).
The surge in fresh talent, a particular hallmark of French film, still seems guaranteed, as there were 72 feature debuts and 40 second features among the 222 FIFs approved last year.
The French film industry’s openness to working with the rest of the world remained at a very healthy level, with 123 international co-productions in 2017 (45 majority French ones – down by 27.4% – and 78 minority French ones – up by 25.8%) with a record number of 48 foreign countries. Last year, the main foreign partners for French cinema turned out to be Belgium (38 features, 22 of which were majority French), Germany (24, with 18 minority), Italy (11, nine of which minority, including just two "financial"), Spain (12, exclusively minority, including seven "financial", a totally unprecedented phenomenon), Switzerland (11), Portugal (six), Greece (five), Luxembourg (five), Canada (four), Israel (three), the United Kingdom (three) and Romania (two).
In terms of the funding of French film productions in 2017, investments stood at €1.32 billion (€1.08 billion of which were French investments and €239 million came from abroad), down by 4.4% compared to the previous year; but this decrease must be put into perspective, considering the clout of two titles in particular in 2016 (Valerian [+see also:
film profile], with a budget of €197 million, and Renegades, with €66 million).
If we look more closely at the sources of funding for FIFs, after the drop we saw in 2016, the involvement of television channels rose again in 2017 to €347.27 million (up 13.3% on the previous year) in pre-purchases and co-production, and their share in the overall funding of FIFs bounced back to 31.9%. It should be noted that TV channels funded a total of 155 of the 222 FIFs, and 28 of the 78 minority co-productions.
Leading the way, as always, was Canal+ (€153.69 million in pre-purchases, a hike of 5.1% across 136 films, 117 of which were FIFs), with the other pay channels making investments being Ciné+ (€19.83 million, an increase of 27.9% across 118 films) and OCS (€37.59 million, a hike of 23.1% across 52 features). Turning to the free-to-air channels, 2017 also saw a rise in their investments, to €151.77 million (up 21.1%) in 128 films (including 11 minority ones); this total includes TF1 (€46 million in 17 films), France 2 (€38.92 million in 32 titles), France 3 (€27.48 million in 35 films), M6 (€15.25 million in ten films), Arte France (€9.99 million in 24 features) and the new free TNT channels (€13.23 million across 43 pre-purchased films, including 19 movies for C8, 13 for W9, ten for TMC and three for TFX), whose investments are nevertheless far from being proportional to their growing clout in terms of audience numbers and advertising revenues.
Interestingly, Canal+’s announcement of a €35 million drop in the amount of its pre-purchases of French and European movies for 2017 does not yet feature among the CNC’s statistics for reasons related to their mismatched calendars (however, its involvement per film is already at its lowest level for ten years). When questioned by Cineuropa, Christophe Tardieu, deputy managing director of the CNC, shed some light on the subject: “Of course, the fall in Canal+’s turnover is very worrying, as it automatically entails a decrease in its investment in films. Nevertheless, I should stress Canal+’s will to respect the diversity agreements signed in May 2015 with French cinema’s professional bodies (see the news) for the time being. The renegotiation of these agreements will begin next year, as they must come to an end in 2020.”
The rest of the funding for FIFs stemmed from contributions by French producers (34.8% of the budgets), theatrical distribution rights, video releases and international sales (18.2% of the budgets), foreign investment (7% of funding), the Soficas (3.8%, via companies that invest in film and audiovisual production) and state aid, comprising 8.3% in automatic support (€40.96 million) and selective support (€29.66 million) from the CNC, as well as regional support (€19.98 million).
Lastly, we should highlight that the 222 FIFs approved in 2017 included 37 documentaries and a mere five animated features, and that 16 FIFs were filmed in a language other than French, including six in English.
(Translated from French)
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