French cinema experiences some turbulence
- FICAM's half-yearly barometer reveals a 16% drop in budgets for feature films - a warning sign that should not be ignored
The national film industry's high quality level (300 feature films accredited in 2017, including 222 FIFs - films of French initiative) and the highly positive impact of national tax credits (with a filming relocation rate of 21%) and international tax credits (highlighted this summer by the release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which was filmed largely in France) should not, however, allow us to overlook some increasingly growing concerns. The FICAM (Federation of Film, Audiovisual and Multimedia Industries) has just issued a warning sign following the publication of its first half-yearly barometer for 2018.
The report is by no means appealing. While the number of French fiction feature films being produced (excluding animated films and documentaries) fell only slightly (83 projects in production, down 3% in comparison with the first half of 2017), budgets have plunged by 16%. During the first six months of the year, only seven films with a budget of more than €10 million were filmed, the lowest total for this section since 2014, and no film had a budget higher than €20 million, a first in the last ten years. On the other hand, films between €2 and €4 million (the most represented budget segment since 2014) are at an all-time high (22 feature films) since 2010.
A decrease in investments, noted in the last quarter of 2017, has therefore been confirmed. This is in part due to Canal+ (a pillar of French cinema funding, with €153.69 million in pre-purchases for 136 approved French films, including 117 FIFs in 2017, according to the CNC) announcing a decrease of €35 million in investments last year (not taken into account by the CNC's 2017 statistics due to calendar issues - read the news here), which is now starting to make itself felt very clearly in production. The questions regarding Canal+'s long-term health status and the need to find alternative means of funding are therefore becoming more and more important. It remains to be seen whether or not public authorities and professionals in the French film industry can reach a group solution, given that they are already unable to agree on media timeline reforms.
These developments are taking place in a climate of profound global change in terms of film "consumption”, which has notably seen (very high) attendance in French cinemas stalling: 117.5 million admissions in the first seven months of 2018, down 4.4% compared to the same period in 2017 (with decreases of 7.3% in April, 15.6% in July and 20.2% in July). This decrease in admissions – which reaches beyond the effects of the Football World Cup, and does not at the moment affect the market share of French films (39.1% over the first seven months of the year against 46.6% for American productions and 14.3% for feature films of other nationalities) – should not be ignored, and its evolution in the coming months will be closely watched in order to find out if a price scissor phenomenon is visible (a decrease in production resulting in a decrease in viewers). Watch this space...
(Translated from French)
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