After playing catch-up with a surge in production in 2021 following delays and full national lockdowns in 2020, French production retained a sense of stability in 2022 but is still under pre-pandemic levels, according to an annual report from France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC) released on Wednesday (March 29).
The figures showed a surge in production from US streamers and a rise in investment from international co-productions, signs of a giant shift in the filmmaking landscape in the country.
After film production skyrocketed by 43.5% year on year to 340 films made in 2021 compared to just 237 in 2020, France’s film industry has continued its production pace with 287 films made in 2022, a return to its decade-long average, but still 13 films less than its 2017-2019 average.
The number of French majority productions dipped compared to pre-Covid years, but producers are making less for more. In 2022, there were 208 French-initiated movies. This is a far smaller number than the 233 films produced in 2017-2019 but more than the 200 films made each year prior to 2010. Streamers shake up the scene and co-productions climb Streamers shake up the scene, and co-productions riseThe biggest shift in the figures for 2022 is the arrival of US streamers. These streamers must invest in local production according to windowing laws. Streamers also continue to invest locally in language features. In 2022, 17 films were prefinanced by streaming platforms, compared to one in 2021. Netflix dominated the field with eight films made for an average budget of EUR2.22m each, Prime Video followed with five films made for an average budget of EUR270,000 and Disney made four films with an average budget of EUR490,000Total investment reached EUR1.18 bn, driven by a record number of co-productions that the CNC owes to “the end of pandemic restrictions” and thus, “an increase in foreign contributions.” French investment was EUR898.5, a 6.2% dip from the 2017-2019 average, while foreign investment jumped 22.3% to EUR283.7m.International co-productions hit a record high level of 144 films made over the year. 50.2% of all films in France were co-produced in 2022. This was the highest level since 2003. Record number of co-productions with minorities was achieved. There were a record number of 79 minority co-productions. France produced 33 films in 2022, compared with 45 in 2021, and 39 in the past decade.
76.4% French majority productions were fiction films with an average budget of EUR5.1m, which is 7.6% more than 2019. Animated films accounted for just seven of the 208 films made, but saw their average budgets jump 145.3% from 2019 to EUR14.5m and documentaries remained stable at 21% of the films made, an a slight 1.8% drop in average budget to EUR560,000.
Five films had budgets of over EUR7m. Production investments remained stable at 39.5%, compared to 2017-2019 average, while broadcasters, long-time investors in French cinema, accounted for 29.7%. This is on par with 2017-2018 figures. Canal+, which invested EUR117.3m in French majority productions in 2022 (the highest level of broadcasting investment since 2016), remains the largest investor. France Televisions’ France 2 was the top investor among public channels, making up 14.6% of total investments in 2022.
The figures were also
forward with the CNC reporting that 69 films, one third of French- majority productions, were directed or co-directed by female filmmakers, “the highest in history.”
The total number of shooting days was down, however, in line with the slight drop in number of overall productions compared to 2021’s post-Covid catch-up. The total number of shooting days decreased by 15.1% over the 2017-2019 average to 5,352 days. The number of shooting days abroad fell by 15.1% compared to the 2017-2019 average, to a total of 5,352 days. However, this is still below the pre-pandemic levels (1,436 days).
Financial investment in French film depends on ticket sales, so as the country recovers at the box office, production figures should reflect the country’s resurgence in the months and years ahead. The CNC’s study was limited to French majority productions and coproductions. It does not include not-yet released figures about foreign expenditure in the territory for international productions that are eligible for the tax rebate, the TRIP.