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PRODUCTION France

2003: a record year

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- The CNC figures: a rise in national productions and European co-productions, but a drop in audiences. The gap between big budget films and other productions gets wider

2003: a record year

There's good news for the French film industry: in 2003 212 feature films were approved by the National Film Centre - CNC. This figure is extremely positive, especially when considering the results for 2002 (200 films) and those in 2001, seen as a record year, with the production of 204 films.

Out of these 212 films, 183 were of French "initiative" (FIF), representing more than 86% of the total number, an increase of 10% when compared with 2002. The production of feature films with a majority foreign share has dropped, from 39 films in 2002 to 27 in 2003. European co-productions are on the rise, especially those made with two countries already topping the list of privileged partnerships: Belgium and Britain.

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But the exceptional figures in the production field for 2003 are in contrast to the market trends, bearing in mind that cinema audiences in France have dropped by 4.9%, with a total of 175.5m tickets sold in 2003 (figures just announced by the National Federation of French Cinemas, the FNCF). It also appears that many producers have chosen not to delay their projects for 2004, so that they could take advantage of the new tax credit system, which came into force on January 1, 2004.
The number of French films being shot or post-produced abroad increased in 2003, causing concern for industry professionals in France.

On the financial side, the gap between big budget films and other productions has continued to widen. The number of French initiative feature films with a budget of more than €15m has continued to rise, from 3 films in 1998 and 1999, to 7 in 2000, 9 in 2001, and now rising to 12 in 2003. In 2002, the French film with the biggest budget was Blueberry, costing €36.13m, but in 2003 both Two Brothers (produced by Pathé) by Jean-Jacques Annaud and Un long dimanche de fiançailles by Pierre Jeunet have broken that record, with respective budgets of €59m and €45.8m. The list continues with Danny the Dog (€33.9m - EuropaCorp), La Vraie Vie des Dalton (€27m - UGC), San Antonio (€23m - Pathé) and Arsène Lupin (€21m - Hugo Films). Though it must be said that all these figures are a mere drop in the ocean when compared with the number one production with a foreign majority approved by the CNC in 2003: Alexander [+see also:
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by Oliver Stone, with its budget of €180m.

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(Translated from French)

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