287 feature films produced by France in 2022
- €1.18b in investments, a record number of international co-productions and the introduction of pre-purchasing by platforms has helped France return to regular pre-pandemic production levels
Following a more than impressive recovery in 2021, bouncing back from the impact of the pandemic, French film has returned to its usual production levels of the past decade, with 287 feature films approved last year (including 54 documentaries and 13 animated titles) to the tune of €1.18b in investment, according to the 2022 report unveiled by the CNC. It’s a rebound which does, however, conceal certain nuances and novelties, notably the first full year of SVOD platforms being incorporated into the sophisticated French funding system.
First of all, it’s worth noting that the number of French initiative films (FIF), which rose to 208 in 2022 (of which 49.5% were first and second feature films), is down by 10.7% on the 2017-2019 average, the lowest level of wholly French films since 2010 (143 feature films).
By contrast, international co-productions are doing exceedingly well, totalling 144 films, of which 65 are majority French and 79 minority French (a record linked, no doubt, to the resumption of filming in numerous countries this past year), and involving 19 countries. Investments in this field rose to €517.54m. The main countries to partner with French film last year were Belgium (31 FIFs and 17 minority French films), Italy (10 and 17), Germany (8 and 7), Canada (7 and 7), Switzerland (7 and 7), Portugal (2 and 9), Spain (10 minority French films), Luxembourg (4 FIFs and 5 minority French films) and Tunisia (5 and 3).
In terms of funding, €914.59m was invested in these 208 FIFs, the average cost of which has risen for the second year running, to €4.4m. 39 of these FIFs benefitted from a budget upwards of €7m, and in four cases, upwards of €20m – Jeremy Zag’s animated title Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie (€60m), Dany Boon’s La Vie pour de vrai (€21.9m), Maïwenn’s Jeanne du Barry [+see also:
film profile] (€20.6m) and Luc Besson’s Dogman (€20.4m). It’s also worth noting that the proportion of feature films with budgets ranging between €4m and €7m (15.9%) - in other words "middle cinema", which accounts for the vast majority of the best French arthouse films - has sunk to its lowest level since 2015.
A breakdown of FIF funding sources in 2022 reveals a relatively stable set-up, despite an 18.3% drop in mandate contributions (cinema distribution, video editing, international sales) compared to the same period in 2017-2019. Producers themselves stump up 39.5% of budgets, while broadcasters foot 29.7% of the bill, and mandates 12.7%. The remainder of FIF funding comes from public aid (7.9%), foreign contributions (7.3%) and SOFICA companies (3.1%).
The major development when it comes to funding offered by broadcasters is that 17 FIFs were pre-financed in 2022 by Netflix (8 titles), Prime Video (5) and Disney+ (4), equating to a total investment of €21m. It should be noted that only two of these films were funded solely by platforms. For the remainder of the works, the latter teamed up with OCS (7 films), Canal+ (2 titles) and free-to-air channels (two feature films made with TF1 and four with France 2 - France 3). However, the strategies of each platform do differ, since Netflix commits an average of €2.2m to each film (with two titles requiring upwards of €15m in budget, including Maïwenn’s Jeanne du Barry) versus €0.49m by Disney+ and €0.27m by Prime Video. Last but not least, it’s worth noting that eight of the 17 pre-purchases made by platforms relate to first films and three to second films.
Canal+ nonetheless remains the pillar of French film funding among broadcasters, having invested €117.3m in 104 FIFs (in addition to €5.38m in 12 minority French co-productions). The other pay-to-view channels’ contributions stand at €10.93m for OCS (for 17 feature films, including 16 FIFs) and €14.3m for Ciné+ (for 119 films, of which 105 FIFs). And this French pay-TV landscape will soon be redrawn by the announced acquisition of OCS by Canal+, if it’s approved by the Competition Authority.
For their part, free-to-air channels have financed 91 French films (of which 84 FIFs) to the tune of €111.25m, by way of France 2 (€40.25m for 36 titles, including 35 FIFs), France 3 (€17.29m for 22 films, including 20 FIFs), TF1 (€29.55m for 11 FIFs), M6 (€13.20m for 6 FIFs) and Arte France (€6.55m for 16 feature films, including 12 FIFs). TNT’s non-historic free channels, meanwhile, invested €4.42m in 16 pre-purchased FIFs, notably 8 films via TMC and four via C8 and W9 respectively.
The number of FIFs funded by broadcasters may have fallen by 11% in 2022, compared to the 2017-2019 average, but average investment per film is undoubtedly on the rise, and contributions from platforms are making up for diminished commitment on the part of free, private channels.
(Translated from French)
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