French film production levels slip

Moviemaking investment is lowest since 2004

Film production in Gaul faltered last year, with both the number of films produced and the level of investment falling.

Government-backed film agency the Centre National de la Cinematographie put a brave face on its figures for the year, saying they demonstrate the industry’s power to resist the financial crisis.

It registered 230 films going into production during 2009, a slight drop on the unusually high score from 2008 but in line with the rising trend through 2006 and 2007.

Investment looked less healthy at E1.1 billion ($1.6 billion), the lowest since 2004.

CNC is particularly concerned about the downturn in spending on films of French origin, which dipped below $1.4 billion for the first time since 2006.

This is blamed on a drop in the number of big-budget productions, with 2009 the first year since 2002 when no domestic production topped $58 million.

Instead, investment is concentrating in medium-budget films. Almost three quarters of domestic production in 2009 came in between $1.4 million and $21.5 million.

Last year was also a good time to be starting out in French cinema, with a record 114 first or second films going into production.

The number of foreign productions in France rose from 44 in 2008 to 48 in 2009, the second highest level in the decade. But investment was down, from $332 million to $246 million.

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