283 feature films produced by France in 2016
by Fabien Lemercier
- €1.38 billion in investments for French productions including 124 international co-productions with 40 countries
While the 2016 report on French film production published by the CNC once again demonstrates the strength of the French film industry and the sturdiness of its funding system, some details, most notably the drop in investments in television series, reflect a change in direction in the model, which will be worth keeping a close eye on in years to come.
With 283 feature films, including 221 films of French initiative (13 fewer than in 2015)and 62 minority French productions (4 fewer), French film production continues to march forward at a consistently enviable pace, registering only a slight deceleration (-5,7%) in the number of films produced compared with record-breaking year 2015 (300), with the second highest number of films produced since 1952.
At first glance, the average budget for films of French initiative rose to €5.47 million, but if you discount the two super productions (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets with its budget of €197.47 million, and The Lake with its envelope of €66.19 million), the figure drops to €4.32 million. Then, if we look at the breakdown of costs, we can see that the number of films of French initiative made rose in just three categories: those with a budget of more than €15 million (15 films in 2016 compared to 10 in 2015), those made on a budget of between €5 million and €7 million (37 features last year compared to 26 in the previous year), and those made on less than €1 million (67 compared to 64). Particularly striking is the drop in the number of films of French initiative produced on a budget of between €7 million and €15 million (15 compared to 41 in the previous year).
A hallmark of French film, there was, as ever, a strong surge in fresh talent last year, with 80 debut features and 34 second features making up the 221 films of French initiative authorised. 32.6% of these debut features were notably made by women.
There was also still a very strong link between the French film industry and the rest of the world, with 124 films co-produced in 2016 (62 majority French productions and 62 minority French productions) with 40 foreign countries, but this was nonetheless a decline after the record of 142 films in 2015. In 2016, the main partners abroad for the French film industry were Belgium (38 feature films including 28 majority French features), Germany (25 features with 11 majority French co-productions), Italy (14 features including 11 minority French productions, five of which were funded by France), Switzerland (6), Portugal (five minority French co-production), Romania (four), Luxembourg (four), Israel (four), Spain (three), Sweden (three), the United Kingdom (three) and Canada (three).
On the funding side of things, in 2016, the French film industry continued to see investments rise (+13.4% on 2015) for the second consecutive year (following four years of decline), to €1.388 billion, including €1.16 billion in French investments and €223 million in investments from abroad. Nonetheless, the overall rise was due above all to the two big-budget French films mentioned above.
If we look more closely at the sources of funding for films of French initiative, we see that after a very clear boost in 2015, funding for television series once again dropped to €306.56 million (-15.5% on the previous year) in pre-purchases and co-production, with the proportion this represents of the total funding for films of French initiative (25.4%) hitting its lowest level since 1994. It should be pointed out that television channels funded a total of 150 of the 221 films of French initiative and 15 of the 62 minority French productions produced in 2016.
Leading the way was Canal+ as always (€143.76 million in pre-purchases, a drop of 16.4% across 107 films including 98 films of French initiative), with other pay channels that contributed being Ciné+ (€15.51 million, a drop of 23.3% across 94 films) and OCS (€30.52 million, a rise of 45,9% across 48 feature films). Turning to free-to-air channels, 2016 saw a clear drop in investments, with €124.66 million invested (-21.1%) in 105 films (including 7 minority French productions), by TF1 (€49 million across 20 films), France 2 (€31.5 million across 30 titles), France 3 (€18.2 million in 23 films), M6 (€12.55 million in 5 films), Arte France (€6.74 million across 21 features) and the new free TNT channels (€7.6 million across 32 pre-purchased films, including 12 films for C8, nine for TMC, six for France 4, five for W9 and four for NT1).
The rest of the funding for films of French initiative came from French producers (38.3% of costs at €462.6 million), distribution mandates, video releases and international sales (20.8% of costs, a sharp rise of 78%), foreign investment (7% of funding), the Soficas (2.4% via companies investing in film and audiovisual production) and state aid at 6.4% in automatic support (€26.49 million) and selective aid (€30.25 million) from the CNC, as well as regional aid (€20.52 million).
(Translated from French)