French dip in films

Spending on prod'n slips; bigger budgets prevail

PARIS — Some 5.3 billion francs ($745 million) was spent on making 171 French films in 2000, slightly down from the previous year’s 181, France’s Centre National de la Cinematographie (CNC) said Monday.

The most expensive film is the yet-to-be-released “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra.” With a budget of $46.3 million, it cost more than twice as much as its nearest rivals, “Brotherhood of the Wolf” and “Vidocq,” each made for $21.5 million.

There was a trend toward bigger-budget, commercial movies. Seven films broke the 100 million franc ($14.2 million) ceiling, compared with two in 1999. The 13 costliest films swallowed up a third of the total spent.

But French production didn’t turn its back on low-budget arthouse. Some 35 movies came in at under 10 million francs ($1.4 million), on a par with last year.

As usual, pay web Canal Plus was the biggest backer of French films, pre-buying 115 at $135 million, compared with 140 at $131 million in 1999.

StudioCanal France also made its mark, with a sevenfold hike in co-productions to $39.3 million compared with $5.35 million in 1999.

The satellite platform Television Par Satellite’s investments amounted to $16.1 million, while free-to-air channels, including the pubcasters, plowed $79.4 million into French film.

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