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France’s Film Production Levels Remained High in 2018, but Local Investment Plummeted

While the volume of production in France remained high with 300 films made in 2018, investment in local films dropped by 15.2% to €1.12 billion ($1.26 billion), hit by the sharp decline in financing from traditional distribution deals and TV channels.

Among the 300 films produced last year, 237 were French-majority films and 63 French-minority movies. Although the volume of film production has kept growing over the last 10 years, budgets have been shrinking by about 2.6% per year, and were down by 17.7% to €4 million last year.

Only 33 films were budgeted at or above 7 million euros in 2018, compared with 49 films in 2017. Meanwhile, there were 69 micro-budgeted films made in France last year, nearly 30% more than in 2017.

Local investment in French movies reached a 10-year record low of €890.52 million; and foreign investment in French films was also down to €198 million (compared with €240 million in 2017). It’s the second lowest foreign investment level within the last decade.

Traditional distribution deals — for theatrical, home entertainment and international sales — fell 30.3% to €144.40 million across 238 films in 2018. Taking into account only the films which were not fully backed by a vertically-integrated company, 173 movies received €51.28 million in minimum guarantees from international sales companies, but 43% of that amount was given to 11 films. When it comes to distribution, the concentration of investment is also high. Out of 110 productions, six movies pulled 34.5% of the €20.86 million in minimum guarantees from French distributors.

Aside from distribution and international sales deals, local TV channels, which have to invest a percentage of their annual revenues in French and European films, also injected less money in French movies in 2018. Overall, TV channels ploughed €281.70 million in 175 films, a 22.5% drop on 2017.

Pay TV channels invested €160.46 million in 164 movies, a 24% drop; while free-to-air channels invested €121.24 million in 116 films, a 20% year-on decline. As anticipated, the investment from Canal Plus fell to a decade-low of €114 million — a 25.5% year-on decline. Canal Plus nevertheless accounted for 70% of all pay-TV investment.

Pathe’s comedy franchise “Les Tuche 3” was the highest-grossing local film at the French box office in 2018.

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