Arcane Arcane

France’s National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC) and Unifrance released their annual report of French tv program exports on Monday, and animation once again proved to be the country’s strongest audiovisual commodity abroad.

Despite still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, French exporters recorded a 6% increase over 2020, for a new record total of €375.9 million ($373.31 million) in 2021. Included in that amount was €101.5 million ($100.78 million) in international pre-sales, which was a record high. Foreign investment was similarly bullish, with international co-production investments hitting their highest level since 2003.

Here are a few animation-specific takeaways from the report, which can be downloaded here as a PDF:

  • Despite being the largest contributor to the strong overall numbers for the French AV sector, animation sales fell 18.5% to €60.8 million ($60.14 million) in 2021. The report’s authors don’t appear too worried though, attributing the drop to the cyclical nature of animation and pointing out that the past five years have seen animation sell at a “very high level” by CNC standards. The study also suggests high exporter confidence for 2022, with sales expected to rise.
  • Even with the drop in 2021, animation still accounted for 32.7% of French sales abroad. Over the past decade, animation accounted for 35.8% of French exports, leading fiction at 25.6% and documentary at 19.8%.
  • Reasons for animation’s 2021 fall cited by the study include a slowdown in the acquisition of new titles as broadcasters focus on established brands, as well as constraints imposed by platforms regarding exclusivity windows. The study also points to a more general slowdown in worldwide purchases by svod platforms, particularly in North America.
French Animation Decline 2021
Credit: CNC
  • The study also points out that animation exporters reported contrasting results from 2021, with a decline among a few of the country’s larger groups as the primary driver of the overall drop.
  • In 2021, exporters shifted their focus earlier in the lifespan of animated content, getting more involved during production. Over the last two years, foreign pre-financing investment has ballooned over €160 million ($158.86 million).
  • Regionally, animation is the most popular French tv export category in North America (36.2%) and Asia/Oceania (55.9%), although French live-action fiction sells better in Western Europe, as seen in the chart below.
French TV Exports By Region
Credit: CNC

Study methodology: The report includes exporter survey data collected by the CNC and Unifrance as well as pre-sales and co-production data cataloged by the CNC.

Pictured at top: Netfix’s “Arcane,” a French tv series produced by Fortiche Production