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Nerdwriter: How French Cinema Works (YouTube Video)

Read Time:2 Minute, 18 Second

The video “How French Cinema Works” provides a fascinating look at the unique system that supports and shapes the film industry in France. At the center of it all is the CNC (the National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image), a government agency with no equivalent in the United States.

The CNC helps fund movies, TV, and other digital creation in France at every stage, from pre-production to exhibition. It gets its money through three key taxes:

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  1. A 10.7% tax on movie ticket sales, whether the film is French or not
  2. A tax on TV providers, established in the 1980s as cinema attendance declined
  3. Taxes on physical media (DVDs/Blu-rays), video on demand, and French streaming platforms

In 2022, these taxes brought in a whopping €714 million in revenue for the CNC, 4 times larger than the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S., for a country 5 times smaller in population.

So where does all this money go? Right back into supporting French audiovisual creation. In 2022:

  • 43% went to cinema
  • 39% to TV and streaming
  • 18% to other initiatives like video games, VFX studios, film preservation and more

French filmmakers can access these funds in two ways: automatic aid and selective aid. Automatic aid acts like a credit account – the success of your last film earns you credits to cash in on your next project, rewarding box office performance. Selective aid, often given to first-time directors as an advance on receipts, is effectively a grant to support bold, independent cinema that might struggle to find commercial success.

But the CNC does much more than fund production. It supports the entire cinema ecosystem, giving millions each year to maintain and renovate theaters across the country, especially those that show diverse films. It also invests in film education to inspire a love of all kinds of movies in the next generation.

While not a perfect system, with the bureaucratic issues you’d expect, the CNC represents a radically different approach than the U.S. system, which relies almost entirely on the private sector and commercial metrics of success. Established in part to combat Hollywood’s dominance after the world wars, the CNC’s commitment to diverse, challenging cinema is unparalleled.

It’s an approach that would be hard to imagine in the U.S., but as the video points out, it’s important to understand how other systems work. For all its flaws, the French system is envied worldwide for its holistic support of cinema culture. Its investment across the entire ecosystem has helped create a dedicated public of moviegoers eager for a wide range of theatrical experiences. A fitting legacy, perhaps, for the country where cinema was born.

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A Google user

July 11, 2019

I’ve loved this app for years and use it at the theater and home. Super easy to use and so helpful to know when it’s a good time to run for the restroom. I notify my kids when it’s close to time, so I don’t end up running them to the restroom multiple times. (Updated review from 4 to 5 . I’d had an issue with the app while at the theater and it was quickly resolved with FANTASTIC customer service. Thanks, RunPee!)

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