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French TV Animation Production Drops 16% and Theatrical Admissions of Toons Fall 18.6% in 2012

ANNECY, France — French TV animation production dropped 16.3% to 181.8 million Euros ($246.7 million) while theatrical admissions of animated features fell 18.6% to 26.4 million tickets sold in 2012.

Figures were unveiled on Wednesday in Annecy, during a conference presented by the National Film Board (CNC) head of statistics Benoit Danard, CNC prexy Frederique Bredin, Unifrance co-managing director Isabelle Giordano, Unifrance president Jean-Paul Salome and TV France Intl. managing director Mathieu Bejot.

The B.O. for animated features was also down 20% to 170 million Euros. On par with 2011, French toons sold 4.6 million tickets sold, repping 17.3% of all admissions.

“More than half of admissions for French animated films are sold in international markets,” said Danard, noting, however, the weak performance of Gallic titles in the U.S.

Addressing the issue, Giordano said Unifrance was working on several initiatives to boost the appeal of homegrown fare in the States and attract younger auds. The org is notably collaborating with a French institute in New York to show five titles, including the Oscar-nominated “Ernest and Celestine” (pictured above), in schools.

Giordano also explained Unifrance was looking into emerging markets like Latin America and, more particularly, Mexico, where there is a high demand for non-Hollywood toons and little local production. “The whole challenge is get our animated films into multiplexes, and it’s an economic war: I recently visited a multiplex in Mexico where ‘Rio 2’ took up half of the screens.”

The average P&A investment for a toon release in France reached 1.8 million Euros in 2012. For a live-action movie the average P&A cost per film ranks in the 800K range. Due to the fact that movie ads are banned on TV, among other factors, France’s P&A’s are considered quite low compared with those in other big film markets.

While the global DVD and Blu-ray market dropped 8.2% in 2012, sales of animated films also fell approximately 8% to 120.2 million Euros. U.S. movies covered as much as 83.5% of sales (compared with 9.3% for Gallic movies).

Toons can still access healthy upside from secondary markets in France, representing 17.4% of DVD/Blu-ray sales in 2012.

In 2012, the animation field was dominated by Marc du Pontavice’s Xilam Animation (“Oggy and the Cockroaches”), which produced 26 hours of programs, notably “The Daltons” and “Hubert & Takako.”

French pubcaster France Televisions was particularly active in 2012, financially backing 33 of the 42 animated features that received TV coin.

The study also underlined the diversity of companies producing animation, notably the arrival of outfits traditionally focused on live action, notably Same Player (EuropaCorp’s ” The Prince and the 108 Demons”) and Superprod (Westend’s “Song of the Sea”).

Salome also pointed out the flurry of live action helmers stepping into animation, such as Remi Bezancon with “Zarafa,” Patrice Leconte with “The Suicide Shop” and, most recently, thesp-turned-helmer Jamel Debbouze with Pathe’s upcoming “Evolution Man” as well as Valerie Lemercier’s project.




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