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This new report finds that:
- The median average budget of a European theatrical fiction film released in 2017 amounted to EUR 2.01 million.
- The two largest financing sources were clearly direct public funding and broadcaster investments, representing 26% and 24% of total financing respectively.
- The percentage share of direct public funding in film financing decreases with increasing market size and budget volume.
Based on the actual budget analysis of 576 European live-action fiction films released in 2017, this is probably the largest pan-European data sample available to date on the financing of European fiction films. This report is the fruit of 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 [see methodological notes below] suggests that the average mean budget of a European theatrical fiction film released in 2017 represented EUR 3.21 million while the median sample budget amounted to EUR 2.01 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 EUR 3.2 million in 2017 compared to EUR 1.5 million for fiction films produced in a medium-sized European market and EUR 0.9 million for fiction films from small markets.
Financing structures for theatrical fiction films in Europe
Categories and importance of film financing sources in Europe 
(Source: European Audiovisual Observatory)
In 2017, 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 two most important financing sources clearly were direct public funding and broadcaster investment, which accounted for 26% and 24% 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% of total financing in the five large sample markets, public funding accounted for 43% in medium-sized and 54% 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 2017 accounted for 17%, compared to ‘only’ 10% in medium-sized and 6% in small sample markets.
The analysis is based on a data sample comprising detailed financing plans for 576 European live-action fiction films - theatrically released in 2017 - from 24 European countries. The data sample includes both 100% national as well as European-majority-led co-productions. It covers a cumulative financing volume of EUR 1.85 billion. The data sample is estimated to cover 49% of the total number of European fiction films released in 2017.