With 300 features, 2015 was a record year for French film production
by Fabien Lemercier
- Last year, 300 features recognised as French were made, including 142 international co-productions with 41 countries, and €1.2 billion were invested
“A strong recovery in production, and enormous diversity” is how the president of the CNC, Frédérique Bredin, summed up the assessment of French film production in 2015 for members of the trade press yesterday. She also expressed her satisfaction with the growth in the drawing power of France as a country for film shoots thanks to the recent overhaul of the tax credits (read the news), and announced forthcoming measures to support independent distribution.
The incredible vibrancy found in French film production is borne out by the total of 300 recognised feature films (as against 258 in 2014), including a record number of 234 films of French initiative (FIF), in addition to 66 minority productions (11 more than in 2014). Interestingly, this clear return to form has an impact on practically all the budget brackets of the FIFs, including the highest one (ten features with over €15 million in 2015, as against three the previous year), with the average budget climbing back up to €4.38 million. The only exception to this overall upward trend for budgets relates to the FIFs included between the €2 million and €4 million marks, which decreased from 61 to 50 features, which, if we take into account the growing proportion of films with a budget of under €2 million (42.7% of the FIFs), suggests that there is a possible risk of a two-tier production structure being established (the middle bracket of €4 million to €5 million being the least populated, containing only seven FIFs). This is a possibility that must nevertheless be borne in mind when we notice the significant and ever-growing number of documentaries (42 FIFs), almost all of which are in the lowest budget brackets.
The French film industry’s openness to the rest of the world reached its peak, with 142 films co-produced with 41 foreign countries in 2015 – in other words, the highest figure from the past decade. The main overseas partners for French cinema were Belgium (48 features, 31 of which were majority French), Germany (17, with 11 majority), Italy (16, including 12 minority), Canada (12), Switzerland and Spain (eight each).
Also worth mentioning among all the positive data is the importance of young blood, with 75 feature debuts and 38 sophomore films out of the 234 FIFs recognised last year.
The breakdown of production funding in 2015 sees investments finally shoot up again (+28.1% compared to 2014) to €1.2 billion, after four years of decline. A closer look reveals the particularly high level of foreign investment in majority French productions, which practically doubled to €100 million, as against €45.9 million in 2014. Among the other good news is a very clear comeback in the commitment shown by TV channels, which invested €377.97 million (+29.7% compared to the previous year) in pre-purchases and co-production for 168 FIFs.
Canal+ is still leading the way (€178.73 million in pre-purchases for 128 films, including 113 FIFs), while the other pay-TV channels making their mark on this landscape were Ciné+ (€20.21 million for 114 films) and OCS (€20.93 million for 37 features). As for the free channels, 2015 saw the highest level of investment in the past decade, with €157.92 million (+29.8%) going into 135 films (12 of which were minority), a total contributed to by TF1 (€46.9 million in 18 films), France 2 (€46.55 million for 48 titles), France 3 (€22.96 million for 26 films), M6 (€24.45 million for ten films), Arte France (€9.91 million for 26 features) and TNT’s free non-historical channels (€7.06 million for 34 pre-purchased films, including 12 movies for D8 and ten for TMC). Also of note is that the number of FIFs not benefiting from any TV investment has decreased (66 films, as against 77 in 2014) and that TV is still the number-one financier of majority French productions, covering 35.5% of their budgets.
The remainder of the funding of FIFs originates from the contributions of French producers (30.4%), mandates (13.7% for theatrical distribution in France, which has picked up speed, while funds received in advance from mandates of video editions and from international sales continue to decline), foreign investment (9.8%), the Soficas (3.4% via firms that invest in film and audiovisual production) and public backing at 7.3%, through automatic support (€25.47 million) and selective support (€29.35 million) from the CNC, as well as regional backing.
(Translated from French)