France’s animation industry is thriving, according to the latest figures published by the country’s national film center, the CNC (Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée), during the Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival.

The country’s animation production levels in 2021 were the second highest ever, at 357 hours of programs, surpassed only by 2006, which reported 395 hours.

French animation, whose long-established reputation of excellence and know-how has been a draw for international co-productions for decades, has proved increasingly attractive to international co-productions thanks to its generous tax rebate for international projects, which was revised upwards from 20% to 30% of spend in 2015. Foreign contributions have more than doubled in the past decade, with more than 83% of films receiving funding from abroad.

France has established itself as one of the world’s leading producers of animation, taking advantage of the booming demand for content, particularly from new non-linear actors.

According to statistics, France is the world’s third largest animation producer, with a backlog of 65 programs currently commissioned, behind the U.S. (313 programs) and Japan (214 programs). The France Télévisions group leads in Europe and ranks NO. 6 globally with 40 animation programs in the pipeline, including 15 for its Okoo platform.

Animation is by far the genre that sells best abroad, representing €74.7 million and close to 38% of total international sales in 2020, compared to 11.2% for documentary and 10.7% for fiction.

That’s a 32.4% rise in the past two decades, which the report’s author, Cecile Lacoue, head of statistics at the CNC, described as very high in spite of the global health crisis, putting it down to strong IPs like “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir” and “Oggy and the Cockroaches,” and the work of French powerhouses like Xilam, Mediatoon, Cyber Group Studios and Method Animation.

While the closure of cinemas due to the COVID-19 pandemic had a strong impact on theatrical distribution abroad, SVOD platforms and linear TV channels have filled the void. In television, French animation enjoys a place of privilege on foreign TV channels, coming in top position behind national productions in countries like Germany, the U.K., Spain and Italy.

Animation, notably animated series, constitute a draw for video-on-demand platforms: in April 2022, more than 89,000 episodes of children’s programs were available on VoD platforms in France, representing 45.1% of the overall offer, which has more than trebled in five years. While most of the programs are aimed at children, more than 15% target an adult audience.

The report shows young audiences are fondest of animation, which represented 8.7% of the offer and 20.6% of television consumption by 4-14-year olds in 2021. This share is even higher among 4-10-year olds (25.3%).

In cinema theaters, animation films are seen as a draw to capture a large, young and more casual audience, 44.5% of which comprised ages 3-14 in 2021.

When theaters reopened in the wake of the pandemic in May 2021, distributors relied on animation to boost attendance with five animation films released within the first week, including U.S. super-productions like “Encanto” and “Tom & Jerry,” bearing witness to the ongoing domination of U.S. animation in French cinemas.

Concluding the presentation of the report, Lacoue described animation in France as a resilient sector in the face of the health crisis, which quickly returned to growth, containing the decline in its workforce at the start of the COVID-19

pandemic and returning to 2019 levels by July, and record levels in November 2021.

Published every year for the past 14 years to coincide with the Annecy festival, the CNC’s Animation Market Research report offers in-depth analysis of audiovisual and cinematographic animation in France and abroad.