EuropaCorp dominates higher-end pic production

ANNECY — Pierre Sissmann’s Cyber Group Studios was France’s most prolific TV toon producer last year, putting 27 hours into production in 2010.

Cyber is followed by Xilam Animation and Method Animations, both with 21 hours and Moonscoop (20 hours), and Futurikon (20 hours), according to a report by France’s Centre National du Cinema (CNC) published Wednesday at the Annecy Animation Festival.

An exhaustive study, running to 157 pages, “The Animation Market in 2010″ nails the gains and pains of Gaul’s animation industry, Europe’s largest.

On the plus side, nine French animated features received CNC support in 2010 led, in budgetary terms, by a pair of EuropaCorp productions: Eric Bergeron’s “A Monster in Paris” (budgeted at Euros28.22 million/$40.9 million) and Mathias Matzieu and Stephane Berla’s “The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart” ($28.4 million), to be presented Friday at Annecy Friday in its Work in Progress strand.

Produced by Les Armateurs and StudioCanal, another WIP entry, the $13.3 million “Ernest and Celestine,” from Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner, was the third-biggest French toon production to draw down CNC aid.

2010′s production levels were way up on 2009, when five films received CNC coin. They are also significantly above the 2001-10 average of 5.9 animated movies a year.

Goosed by EuropCorp’s duo, total investment in 2010′s nine Fench toon pics — $134.2 million — was a record for the past 10 years.

In contrast, Gallic TV toon show productions made with CNC money fell from 347 hours in 2009 to 320 last year. Gallic free-to-air network investment plunged 15.2% to $56.5 million. Short-format series lasting eight minutes or less increased 32% to 125 hours put into production. Half-hour series plunged 49% to 51 hours.

In another French film/TV contrast, French animation pics repped 14.1% share of total tix sold for animated films in France last year, as U.S. 3D toon juggernauts dominated the market.

French TV toon shows accounted, however, for 45.8% of all animation programs broadcast in France, vs. 30% for U.S. shows.

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