Gaul lensed a record 204 pix in ’01

Lower budgeted pics produced

PARIS — Gallic filmmakers last year cranked out a record 204 films –33 more than in 2000 and the highest number since the industry began keeping track in 1949.

According to numbers released by the Centre National de Cinematographie Wednesday, French producers shelled out more than 900 million euros ($792 million) on the films.

One reason for the increase was that twice as many films budgeted under $880,000 were produced compared with the year before. Most of these arthouse flicks and documentaries were shot on DV or 16mm, some financed solely with CNC advances against receipts. Some 75% were by frosh or soph helmers.

At the other end of the spectrum, 60% of French film financing money was plowed into the 34 most expensive productions, with budgets ranging from $6.2 million to more than $30 million.

The most expensive French flick produced in 2001 — Roman Polanski’s yet-to-be-released “The Pianist” — was made in English. With a budget of $33.6 million, it cost about a third more than its nearest rival, Alain Berberian’s “Le Boulet” ($21.3 million).

As usual, Canal Plus had the deep-est pockets, investing $135 million –21% of total bucks spent on French pics. Though the pay web ran the same tab in 2000, last year it pre-bought seven more films (122 total), hence its per film average investment dimin-ished.

Satellite platform TPS spent nearly $21 million last year, up $5.7 million from 2000. Like Canal Plus, TPS is required by the French government to invest in French and European film.

French terrestrial channels, including pubcasters, socked $88 million into Gallic film last year, compared to $79.4 million in 2000, with nearly half of that coming from TF1.

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