340 feature films produced by France in 2021

– French production rebounded admirably last year, but the full recovery will only come with the return to normal of cinema admissions and the well-being of independent distributors

Director of Cinema at CNC Magali Valente

After a year spent resisting the first brutal impacts of the pandemic in 2020, mitigated by a series of measures taken by the authorities (notably the guarantee fund for shootings in order to support the activity of the sector, as well as various mechanisms to avoid a slowdown in investments for the future), French cinema has caught up spectacularly, as illustrated by Review of French film production 2021 published by the CNC and presented to the press by Head of Film Magali Valente.

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With 340 feature films registeredincluding 265 French initiative films (77 FIF more than in 2020) and 75 minority productions (26 more), French film production in 2021 reached a new record (the previous record reached in 2019 with 301 feature films registered). However, if we take into account the two years of health crisis, the 2020-2021 average amounts to 289 films and is even below the production levels recorded between 2017 and 2019.

“As it stands, we have to make sure we get out of the crisis because the emergency aid offered by the authorities will dwindle,” said Magali Valente. “We have limited the damage, but we do not know how long it will take for cinema admissions to return to their normal level, if they experience a structural drop or if the situation will even out over time. We don’t have the perspective necessary to achieve this at this stage, but we will know more at the start of the school year, both in terms of overall admissions and for more diversified films. anything ; the gap has widened between the different types of films, and works of art and essays have suffered, hence the fragility of certain independent distributors, which could turn into a vicious circle, because this leads to a level risk aversion which is not favorable to the recovery and which could have a systemic effect on the fall in the MG (Minimum Guaranteed) offered by the distributors that we are already beginning to see. As such, we need to find solutions to help support distributors now.

Despite continued challenges over the past year with film crews having to work overseas, 143 French international co-productions were recorded in 2021 (+66.3% compared to the previous year and +23.3% compared to 2019), carried out alongside 45 foreign countries: 68 majority French productions (+31) and 75 minority productions (+26). Investments in the sector amount to €468.1m (up 71.1% compared to 2020, but down 8% compared to 2019 and light years away from the €774.44m invested in 2003 ): €225.25 million from France and €242.85 million from abroad.

The main foreign partners of French cinema last year were Belgium (25 FIF and 17 minority productions), Italy (8 FIF and 21 minority productions), Germany (13 FIF and 11 minority productions), Luxemburg (6 FIF and 6 minority productions), Spain (2 FIF and 7 minority productions), Switzerland (6 FIF and 3 minority productions) and Portugal (5 FIF and 3 minority productions).

On the funding On the investment side, overall investment jumped to €1.35 billion (+73.5% compared to 2020 and +21.4% compared to 2019), including €1.12 billion for French initiative films. Thus, after four years of decline, the average budget of the FIF has risen to €4.23 million. That said, if we exclude the four films entered in 2021 which had a budget of more than €30 million (Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom with €64.10 million, The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan with €36.08 million, The Three Musketeers: Milady with €36.16 million and Notre Dame on fire [+see also:
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with 31.53 M€), the average budget is 3.66 M€. “The decline in average budgets is a long-standing trend that has worsened during the crisis. We must ensure that it does not accelerate too much because we would end up with problems in structuring the market”, insisted Magali Valente. “Overall, however, even though funding is being phased out, the market is not stagnating.”

The analysis of budget allocations mainly reveals a very strong increase in FIFs with a budget of between €1 million and €4 million in 2021, i.e. 101 films, i.e. a new record since 1994 and a surge driven by the film segment between €2 million and €4 million. Similarly, FIF production between €4 and €7 million reached a peak of 59 films.

The finer detail on the sources of financing of the FIF in 2021 reveals a relatively stable structure, if not a fairly strong increase in public financing (automatic and selective aid from the CNC, regional subsidies) which represented 10% of the budgets of the FIF last year, the highest level since 2004 and a natural consequence of anti-crisis measures (in particular the doubling of selective aid and the increase in automatic aid in order to compensate for the loss of income vis-à-vis cinema admissions caused by the management of the pandemic). The producers themselves cover 37.1% of the estimates, the TV networks 30.1% and the mandates (cinema distribution, video distribution and international sales) 15.3%. The rest of the FIF financing comes from SOFICA companies (3.2%) and foreign capital (4.6%).

The €349.4 million of investments made by television channels in 2021 are spread over 221 films (196 FIF and 25 minority productions), a new record (compared to 131 films the previous year and 171 in 2019). Canal+ remains the mainstay of French cinema financing with its investment of €151.47 million (its highest level since 2017) for 169 films, including 153 FIF, even if its pre-purchases in 2010 amounted to €194.57 million. As with other pay-TV networks, Orange Cinema Series committed €37.27 million in investments (for 38 feature films including 34 FIF) while Cine+ brought in €15.38 million (for 168 films including 152 FIF).

Funding for free channels also rebounded last year, with €143.97 million invested in 126 films (including 115 FIF) via France 2 (€38.71 million for 40 titles including 39 FIF), France 3 (€29.51 million for 33 films including 32 FIF), TF1 (€29.43, for 8 FIF), M6 (€28.20 million for 12 FIF) and Art France (€10.65 million for 26 feature films including 17 FIF). DTTThe non-historic free-to-air channels of ‘ invested €7.47 million in 27 pre-purchased FIFs, in particular via 11 films for W9and 8 for C8 and TMC, respectively.

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(Translated from French)

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