French Movie Sector Drew $1.28B Investment In 2022 As Activity Returned To Pre-Pandemic Levels

The French movie sector saw investment and activity return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, while streamer contributions rose, according to the annual production report of France’s National Cinema Centre.

Overall, there was $1.28 billion (1.18 billion euros) worth of investment in feature film production in 2022, against €1.44 billion (1.33 billion euros) in 2021 and $1.21 billion (1.11 billion euros) in 2019.

The number of films also stabilized at 287, down from the 2021 spike of 340 but in line with the 10-year average of 288.

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The annual study, released on Wednesday, draws on budget information provided for feature film productions approved by the CNC as eligible for its different support schemes and is seen as giving an accurate reflection of what is going on in the sector from one year to the next.

“After a 2021 marked by a record number of approved films due to the strong catch-up effect of 2020, when production was hit by the crisis, 2022 returns to a level of production in line with that seen before the health crisis,” the CNC said.

Breaking the figures down, the data presented a more complex picture for the “French initiative films” (FIF) as well as local investment.

There were 208 FIF films (among the 287 films), split between 159 fiction features, 43 documentaries and six animations. This marked a 10.7% drop on the average for the 2017 to 2019 period.

A total of 64 films were by first-time feature directors, 39 were second films and 105 of the works were third-time works or more.

French investment came in at $1.07 billion (898.5 million euros) which was 6.2% lower than the average for the 2017 to 2019 period, but 4.5% higher than 2019.

The overall investment figure of $1.28 billion held steady thanks to international partners playing a bigger role in the sector than in previous years.

On one level, 144 of the 287 approved films were co-productions, the highest level in a decade, and up from 116 in 2019.

“For the first time since 2003, half of the approved films (50.2%) are co-productions,” read the report.

The CNC noted that the breadth of the partner territories had contracted to 33 territories in 2022, against 45 in 2021 and an average of 39 countries for the 10-year period.

Investment from outside the country ticked up to $308.5 million (283.7 million euros) against $278.8 million (256.6 million euros) in 2019. The CNC noted the 2022 figure marked a 22.3% rise in the average amount for the period from 2017 to 2019.

FIF productions garnered $993.9 billion (914.6 million euros) of the overall $1.28 billion investment amount.

Across all the FIF productions, the average film budget was $4.78 million (4.4 million euros), which was higher than in recent years but below the 2016 peak of $5.9 million (5.5 million euros).

There were four films with budgets higher than $21 million (20 million euros): Jeremy Zag’s Ladybug & Cat Noir Awakening, Dany Boon’s Life For Real, Maïwenn’s Jeanne du Barry and Luc Besson’s Dogman.  

The CNC said the key sources of investment for cinema comprising state funds and broadcasters had remained relatively stable.

Public funds accounted for 7.9% of the funding against 8.8% for the 2017 to 2019 period, while broadcasters and new platforms accounted for 29.7% of the investment.

There had been a slight rise in the funds provided by the latter group to $295 million (271.5 million euros), against $283 million (263.3 million euros).

This was due to greater investments from streaming platforms, following the introduction of new regulations obliging them to invest part of their French turnover in local productions.

The CNC said the streamers had invested $22 million (21 million euros) in 17 approved FIF films, most often in addition to contributions from linear broadcasters.

Giving details for three of the main streamers, the CNC said Disney+ had invested in four FIF films, for an average investment of $532,000 (490,000 euros); Netflix had backed eight FIF films for an average of $2.41 million (2.2 million euros) per film, and Prime Video had invested in five features for an average of $293,000 (270,000 euros)

Pay-TV giant Canal+ kept its crown as the top financier of French cinema, putting $127 million (117.3 million euros) into 104 FIF films, accounting for 43.2% of the overall broadcaster and platform investment.

In other data, the report also looked at the gender split by director of the approved films. For FIF films, 69, or 30.8%, of the 224 directors involved in the 208 approved films were women.

This was a slight rise on 2021 when female directors accounted for 29.8% of the directors making films and also points to a steady rise over the past twenty years, with just 16.7% of features directed by women in 2003.

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