Co-productions a better bet in Europe

Have greater cross-border appeal, provide incentives

European local-language movies have surfaced as potent competitors at home to long-dominant U.S. offerings, but how well do the homegrown titles perform in their own backyards?

As single-country films, not that well, but a lot better if they're part of European co-productions.

In a study of 5,414 films released in 20 countries from 2001-07, the European Audiovisual Observatory found that Euro co-productions get released in more than twice the number of markets than 100% national productions. About 2.7 times as many admissions are chalked up by the co-productions than by single-nation films, with the co-prods selling an average of 51,785 tickets compared with 19,137 for the homegrown titles.

Another EAO study related to EU market access of films from "third countries" (U.S. not included) indicates that being a co-production plays "a positive role." For example, Latin American and African films that make their way to Europe fare a lot better in distribution and at the boxoffice if they are majority co-productions with Europe.

The report defines a co-production as "a film whose production budget is financed by sources stemming from two or more countries," with the country providing the bulk of the financing considered the country of origin. Also, such factors as the nationality of the director and the cultural content may come into play in determining the country of origin.

Co-productions not only have greater cross-border appeal, the report stresses, they enable producers to raise funding for larger-budget films; pave the way to international broadcasters and distributors; and provide incentives for the casting of international A-list talent. It suggests that it's a good idea to shoot big-budget commercial co-productions in English in order to open the door to a high-value, subtitling-resistant market like the U.K.
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