Friday, December 02, 2016

The French Way

France has long since come into its own in the world of animation.

... Animation in France is considered a crown jewel of local culture and as such is nurtured not only by schools but also by film festivals, such as Annecy Animation Film Festival or even Cannes Film Festival, including Directors’ Fortnight. ...

France’s track record in animation features also stems from its large pool of top-notch producers such as Les Armateurs, Sacrebleu Prods., as well as distribution house Gebeka Films, and its leadership in TV animation — a heavily subsidized industry that requires TV channels to pre-buy and program homegrown toon shows. ...

“I think our international crew component helps us in a huge way to appeal globally. We rely on the good ideas of the artists at every step of the way as part of our process, and we benefit always from the expansive talents and unique perspectives that our diversity provides,” says Illumination MacGuff’s Paris-based producer Janet Healy. She also acknowledged the major role played by French production designer Eric Guillon, on both “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Sing.”

In terms of international sales and foreign box office prospects, French animation is a huge driving force.

As much as 90% of all French animated features travel abroad and most, if not all, of French animated films find U.S. distributors, says Renouard. He notes that a trio of French toons — “The Little Prince,” “Asterix and the Domain of the Gods,” and “Mune” — repped 20% of Gallic films’ ticket sales outside the country in 2015. ...

For a long time, no animated feature produced outside the U.S. of A. could get much traction at the world box office. France changed that equation with Despicable Me, The Minions Movie, The Secret Life of Pets, etc. In short, all the films Illumination Entertainment created at its Paris studio MacGuff.

But beyond the Hollywood movies, France has produced plenty of home-grown animated features that have gone into the black. They might not make a billion dollars like their California cousins, but with smaller budgets, it only takes a worldwide gross of $70 or a $100 million to turn a profit.

Not every movie needs to be Toy Story or Zootopia. And French animated features don't want to be imitation Disney.


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