French runaways on the rise

Gallic pics move abroad to shoot

France’s film production levels and investments bounced back to reach near-record highs in 2010.

Shoot days and expenditure on Gallic pics outside France were also on the rise, according to a report from France’s Centre National du Cinema film board.

Total shoot days for local films in France grew 12.2% to 4,959 last year; abroad, they were up 33.1% to 1,962 days.

Meanwhile, French films spent €196 million ($273.3 million) overseas, 18% of all Gallic spending for fiction, docus and toons, the highest level in a decade.

Industryites point out that the figures may have been driven by relocating a number of mid-range budget productions to neighboring countries offering generous tax incentives.

Eric Garandeau, the new CNC prexy, said the national film board was “extremely concerned about the attractiveness of the French tax rebate,” pointing to productions relocating to Luxembourg and Belgium, where tax incentives are better.

“We’re studying these figures to better understand how our rebate plan (capped at $1.39 million) needs to be adjusted to be more competitive,” he said.

On the other hand, Garandeau and Benoit Danard, in charge of studies and statistics for the CNC, suggested the figures also reflected the increase in the number of international co-productions. In 2010, 118 pics were co-produced with 36 countries. These include 60 French-majority co-productions (15 more than in 2009) and 58 French-minority co-productions (10 more).

Meanwhile, foreign investment in 2010 skyrocketed 68.9% to $428.6 million, close to the 2003 high when Oliver Stone filmed “Alexander” in France.

The foreign investment figures were bolstered by four major pics: Constantin’s “The Three Musketeers,” Kirsten Dunst starrer “Upside Down,” Liam Neeson player “Unknown” and Paolo Sorrentino’s “There Must Be a Place,” toplining Sean Penn.

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