€194 million for sales of French films abroad in 2014
by Fabien Lemercier
- “All rights” sales still persisted, and there was a tightening up and polarisation of the market: these are the main findings in the annual study led by the CNC
Analysing the highly dynamic sector of French film exports through the results reported by 25 companies, a study led by the CNC together with UniFrance, the ADEF (Association of Film Exporters) and the IFCIC has calculated that the sales of French films abroad attained a figure of €194 million in 2014 (up 17.3% on the previous year; €169.7 million of which comes from recent titles and €24.2 million from back-catalogue works). Three organisations gathered 67.1% of this revenue, and five managed more than €10 million worth of sales in 2014. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that all of these amounts mostly reflect sales from 2012, 2013 and early 2014, owing to the time gap between the signing of the contracts and the payments being made; they also chiefly correspond to the recovery of minimum guarantees (MGs) paid by foreign distributors.
Another interesting aspect worth pointing out is that 84% of this revenue comes from the sale of combined rights (theatres, television, video, VoD, catch-up TV), the transfer of TV rights alone representing 9% and those of video rights alone totalling 4.1%. Incidentally, it is difficult to identify the income stemming from VoD rights, which remained very limited in 2014, because foreign buyers require these VoD rights to be systematically combined with the theatrical and/or TV rights. Even though the transfer of these VoD rights has become vital in sales negotiations (particularly for Northern Europe, North America and Asia), very few French exporters claim to have successfully turned it into a substantial source of income.
Overall, sales prices have remained well below pre-crisis levels (2008). Also worth noting is a trend towards extending the rights that have been transferred (up to 10-20 years in English-speaking countries).
French sales agents also highlight a tightening up and an increasing polarisation of the market. The toughening market sees the entirety of its players opting for the films that are most in demand, and the sellers are forced to rely on highly calibrated titles that are adapted for the international market, and supply distributors with the keys to marketing works that are immediately identifiable in terms of target audiences or similar films. The reputations of the director and the actors are still determining factors for potential sales, and festival exposure as well as any awards won are increasingly important factors when it comes to building up a film’s sales pitch.
Lastly of note is the fact that French exporters also recorded €128.1 million in international sales in 2014 with the foreign films on their slates.
(Translated from French)