Investment in French films falls

Production coin dropped 7.2% in first half

PARIS — The dearth of local and international financing sources has weakened the Gallic film industry, according to a CNC report unveiled Thursday.

Investments in French films during 2010’s first-half dropped by 7.2% to $604 million, compared with 2009’s first semester, CNC said.

The average budget for a French film is $6.64 million compared with $8.03 million during last year’s first half.

“The French film industry is going through a structural crisis, which will eventually push producers to adopt a different business model,” Serge Siritzky, editor of French trade mag Ecran Total, said. “Resources are scarcer because international pre-sales have dropped along with minimum guarantees given by distributors; TV channels are investing in fewer films and even regional subsidies have gone down.”

However, the number of French-majority films produced climbed 12.3% to 91 films.

Siritzky commented, “The volume of production is up but that’s only because there have been more films with tiny budgets.”

More than 15% of films produced this year had budget under $1.28 million, compared with 8.6% last year. Less than 10% of pics had budgets above $12.8 million. There were no projects budgeted above $38.5 million.

On the upside, French TV production bounced back during the first half. TV channels upped their investment in fiction by 24.5% to reach $518 million. Paybox Canal Plus and Franco-German net Arte led the trend with a flurry of high-profile shows, such as Mabrouk El Mechri’s “Maison Close” and Haut et Court-produced “Xanadu,” respectively. After hitting a dry patch last year, the volume of TV production is back up with a 23.1% increase in shooting days.

The TV animation field suffered a setback during the first half. Investment from French TV channels fell 30% to $29 million, although that was partly due to production cycles. Budgets fell 22%.

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