After a year marked by a two-month lockdown and COVID restrictions, the volume of French productions surged by 43.5% in 2021, with 340 films made after widespread postponements in 2020, according to a report unveiled by the CNC (National Film Board).

The number of movies produced last year is even 13% higher than in 2019, before the pandemic. Along with production levels, the investment in French films skyrocketed by 73.5% to €1.1 billon ($1.2 billion), the second-highest figure of the decade — behind 2016. It’s a 21.4% increase on 2019.

While the average budget for French films in 2021 was €4.2 million, Pathé (“CODA”) delivered four films budgeted above €30 million ($32 million): Guillaume Canet’s live action film “Asterix & Obelix, the Middle Kingdom” based on the Belgian comic book, as well as “The Three Musketeers – D’Artagnan” and “The Three Musketeers – Milady,” the epic two-part saga based on Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Notre-Dame on Fire.”

French TV channels, who must invest a percentage of their annual revenues in French and European movies, financed on average 30% of film budgets, ranking as the second source of movie financing behind producers. Public subsidies covered on average 10% of budgets, an all-time record.

France also co-produced 143 movies with foreign producers from 45 countries, a 66.3% year-on increase and a rise of 23.3% compared with 2019. The amount invested in majority co-productions jumped by 75.9% to €234.6 million ($257.6 million). Belgique is French movies’s No. 1 co-producing country for the 10th consecutive year, followed by Germany. There were 67 feature debuts produced in 2021 (compared with 59 in 2020), which represents 25% of French-language movies made last year.

In terms of gender balance, an equal number of male and female directors helmed the 67 feature debuts, underscoring the rise of a young generation of female filmmakers. In 2020, male directors helmed 70% of the first films.

There were a cumulated 6,946 days of filming last year on par with pre-pandemic levels. The CNC pointed out the relief measures, which were put in place by the French government. Notably, the temporary indemnity fund for canceled or postponed shoots encouraged producers to start lensing in spite of the pandemic.