Advanced Television

Report: €2m average budget of European films in 2019

March 15, 2022

Based on the actual budget analysis of 651 European live-action fiction films released in 2019, this is probably the largest pan-European data sample available to date on the financing of European fiction films. This report comes via a major collaboration project between the European Audiovisual Observatory, part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and the European Film Agency Research Network (EFARN). It was authored by Martin Kanzler, Deputy Head of the Observatory’s Department for Market Information.

The report aims at providing concrete figures on how European theatrical fiction films are being financed. This analysis offers a big-picture, pan-European perspective, and complements work done at national levels. It provides unique fact-based insights on a wide variety of research questions, from the quantification of the average budget of theatrical European fiction films, to the importance of individual financing sources.

Theatrical fiction budgets in Europe

The data sample studied suggests that the mean budget of a European theatrical fiction film released in 2019 represented €3.14 million while the median sample budget amounted to €2.07 million. However, average budgets differ widely among countries. Not surprisingly, average budgets are higher in larger markets and lower in countries with lower box-office potential, as exploitation in national markets remains key for most films. The median budget of a European fiction film originating in France, Germany, Italy, Poland or the UK (the large markets included in the sample) amounted to €3.1 million in 2019 compared to €1.6 million for fiction films produced in a medium-sized European market and  €1.1 million for fiction films from small markets.

In 2019, the financing of European theatrical fiction films was primarily based on five different financing sources: direct public funding; broadcaster investment; producer investment; pre-sales; and fiscal incentives. The single most significant financing source clearly was direct public funding, which accounted for 28 per cent. Direct public funding was followed by producer investments (excl. broadcasters) and broadcaster investments, both of which accounted for 18 per cent of total financing slightly ahead of pre-sales (excl. broadcasting rights) and production incentives which accounted for 16 per cent and 14 per cent of total financing, respectively. However, there appear to be significant structural differences among countries concerning how theatrical fiction films are financed. Some of these differences are apparently linked to market size.

The two most obvious differences concern direct public funding and pre-sales. The data clearly suggests that the weight of direct public funding in film financing decreases with increasing market size and vice versa. While comprising only 21 per cent of total financing in the five large sample markets, public funding accounted for 41 per cent in medium-sized and 63 per cent in small sample markets.

In contrast, the importance of pre-sales (other than those to broadcasters) as a financing source decreases with market size. Pre-sales tend to be most important in large markets, where they in 2019 accounted for 19 per cent, compared to ‘only’ 9 per cent in medium-sized and 4 per cent in small sample markets.

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