The negative impact of the health crisis on film production seems to have been erased. After a particularly difficult 2020 for this sector, 2021 saw “a catch-up effect”, which makes it possible to exceed the average pre-Covid low water level, according to a study by the National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC), published Monday, March 28.
Last year, 340 films were thus approved by the CNC, compared to 237 in 2020. The feature film projects left hanging during the health crisis were finally able to see the light of day. The study highlights “a very high level of investment in 2021”, with 1.1 billion euros devoted to French initiative cinematographic production (that is to say with a majority of French funding). It is the second highest level of the decade after 2016, which peaked at 1.2 billion euros. Of this total, four films posted a budget of more than 30 million euros: Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom, by Guillaume Canet Notre Dame is burning by Jean-Jacques Annaud, as well as the two feature films signed by Martin Bourboulon and freely adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan as well as The Three Musketeers: Milady.
Alongside these mega-productions, average estimates are on a downward trend. More than half of the films are made for sums of less than 4 million euros. The CNC points out that very low-budget feature films (less than 1 million euros) are at their lowest level of the decade (25.3% in 2021), after 2017. Conversely, low-budget films ( from 1 million to 4 million euros) and those called “in the middle”, between 4 million and 7 million euros, each reached their second peak in ten years (with respectively a proportion of 38.1% and 22.3%).
Televisions, major funders
The CNC emphasizes that “the health crisis has not upset the major film financing balances”. Television channels made up for the sums not invested in 2020, so that they remained “major partners” in the financing of French productions, by providing 30.1% of the sums necessary for the completion of these projects. On average, they invested 1.7 million euros per film, a threshold that has hardly changed since 2018.
After a trough in 2020, the year during which they had financed only 117 French films, the channels redistributed a significant windfall to 196 feature films, in 2021. A peak not reached since 1994, date of the first study of this guy from the CNC. Canal+ brought 145.2 million euros to French films last year. That is almost double its cost in 2020 (74.6 million). Televisions still occupy the place of the second “bankers” of cinema, after the producers who themselves provided 37.1% of the quotes.
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