Feature film production was on the road to recovery in France in 2021, according to the annual production report of the country’s National Cinema Centre (CNC).
“The tally for 2021 is marked by the repercussions of the health crisis on cinema production,” said the body.
“After a particularly difficult 2020 for the sector, we’re seeing a “catch-up” effect which is allowing it to return to pre-health crisis levels.”
The study, released on Monday (March 28), showed investment had risen by 75% year-on-year in 2021 to hit €1.3bn ($1.4bn), which also represented a 21% increase on 2019, when there was €1.16bn ($1.2bn) worth of investment.
Within the €1.3bn figure, €1.1bn ($1.2b) had gone into majority French productions.
The CNC study draws on data for all the feature films approved for its various support schemes over the course of a year. As nearly all features produced in France qualify for some sort of CNC backing, it gives an accurate indication of the state of the country’s production sector.
The report said that the number of approved films rose 43.5% year-on-year in 2021 to 340, against 237 in 2020. This was also 13% higher than in 2019 when 301 features were approved. Within this figure, 265 of the 340 registered features were majority French productions.
The CNC noted, however, that despite the sharp rise in 2021, the average annual number of approved films across 2020 and 2021 of 289 films was still below the annual average of 300 films for the three years preceding the pandemic.
In terms of budgets, the average budget for French majority productions rose 24.1% to €4.23m ($4.67m), against €3.41m ($3.76m) in 2020.
There were four French productions with budgets above €30m ($33m): Martin Bourboulon’s two-film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic The Three Musketeers, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Notre-Dame On Fire and Guillaume Canet’s Astérix & Obélix: The Middle Kingdom. All three productions were backed by French mini-major Pathé which fully-financed best picture Oscar winner Coda.
The study showed that France’s role as a major co-production partner was also on the road to recovery.
The CNC registered 143 co-productions involving French partners, for a 66.3% rise on 2020 and 23.3% rise on 2019. These productions had benefitted from a combined investment of €468m ($516m), 48.1% of which had been provided by the French partners.
“The international co-productions represent 42.1% of the approved films. These films are co-produced with 45 different countries, which represents a diversity of territories as wide as previous years,” said the CNC.
In another sign of the production sector’s recovery, the number of official shooting days registered by majority French features at home and abroad rose to 6,946 in 2021, against 4.200 days in 2020. Within this, 5,949 days were in France, against 3,590 days in 2020.
The CNC noted, however, that the overall average across 2020 and 2021 of 5,600 days remained lower than the average for the three years prior to the pandemic.