French Film Production Falls 24 Percent in First Half of 2014

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PARIS – Feature film production in France fell nearly a quarter in the first half of the year, according to the latest figures released by the Federation of Cinema Industries (FICAM) on Wednesday.

Down 24 percent, only 55 films went into production in the first half of the year, compared with 72 during the same period last year. This marks the lowest number of features being shot in France in the last seven years.

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The decline was particularly acute among mid-budget productions of between $5.4–13.5 million (€4–10 million), and no films with a budget of $5.4–6.7 million (€4–5 million) were started. Shooting times for productions also fell, the group said.

"As mentioned in the first quarter, this alarming trend seems to be a direct consequence of the difficulties encountered by distributors who can no longer feed the budgets of movies via the guaranteed minimums," the organization said in a statement.

French producers pay a guaranteed advance on the movies' gross earnings, but after years of declines in the French box office, producers are becoming increasingly reluctant to fund French films and are looking for guaranteed hits with international appeal.

FICAM also cited the new rules of what is called the “collective agreement,” which regulated the industry practices and created minimum wages in several sectors, including technicians such as electricians and camera operators, costume and wardrobe workers, and assistant directors.

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After a decade of debate, the agreement was signed by trade unions and the Association of Independent Producers (API), which represents major production companies Gaumont, MK2, Pathe and UGC in France, in October 2012 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2013. At the time, many directors opposed the measures saying that the new wages and stipulations regarding overtime and night shoots would jeopardize low-budget films.

The agreement provided exceptions for films of budgets under $3.3 million (€2.5 million.)

The report also noted that 46 percent of films with budgets of more than €4 million also reported a decline in shooting weeks for projects.

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