PARIS: The volume of animation production in France has decreased by 22% according to an annual study released at MIP-TV by Paris-based public production funding institution CNC (Centre National de la Cinématographie). Last year, France produced 294 hours of toons, a full 81 hours fewer than 1998′s total of 375.
The drop in animation output can be largely attributed to a corresponding decline in investment from foreign co-pro partners. Though the amount these players are contributing to individual projects is still high (47% of the total budget on average), the total amount put into French toon production dropped from US$99 million in ’98 to US$81 million in ’99. Even French producers put less money into the pot last year, investing only US$38 million, compared to US$50 million in ’98.
The CNC study also shows that France’s animation sector is extremely concentrated, with 50% of hours produced in `99 coming from just seven of 49 existing toon prodcos. Some of the most prolific entities include Ellipsanime, France Animation, Saban International and Xilam.
In total, the CNC study records total toon production for 1999 at US$175 million, with an average per-hour cost of US$600,000. Ponying up an average 20% of project budgets, French broadcasters’ regional production investments are slightly up from ’98 to US$35 million, with France 3 ( US$7 million for 73 hours) and TF1 (US$6.8 million for 54 hours) topping out as the casters most involved in local production. Dedicated channels Canal J, Fox Kids, Disney Channel and Teletoon are also increasingly turning to the local industry for programming, as they count 56 co-produced hours in 1999, a 16% growth from the previous year.
With the reduction of France 2′s involvement in animation production (compared to live action) and Canal J’s new strategy, which cuts down its co-pro activities, the SPFA, an association of French animation producers, fears that 2000 CNC figures will show an even more severe drop-off in toon production.