Fiction, France's most exported genre in 2022

For the first time, fiction content has traveled more than animation or any other genre. French distributors explain this trend and highlight their most important titles for Mipcom.

26 OCT 2023

"The Plague" and "Follow"

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Unifrance and CNC revealed a sharp increase in fiction shows sales during 2022, reaching a historically high level (€80.7m, +40.9% vs. 2021). Fiction was the most exported genre for the first time, ahead of animation, reaching a record market share for the genre (37.6% of total sales). The international success of French fiction was driven by several significant sales and a wide variety of genres and programs like "The Bureau," "Vortex," and "Women at War." In 2022, that success continued with French procedural TV series, in particular in Spain and Italy with "Candice Renoir," "Tandem," "Tropiques Criminels," and also with historical dramas such as "Marie-Antoinette," or young adult dramas like "Chair Tendre," or series with strong female characters such as "Women at War" and "HPI –High Potential". Furthermore, the French industry saw a consolidation of foreign adaptations of local IPs, like "The Bureau" and "HPI" in the USA.

"French fiction is trendy in France, achieving top ratings ahead of feature films, American or European fiction, even though they are sometimes produced with higher budgets," explained Marie Laure Hébrard, CEO at Film & Picture. "Consequently, national broadcasters decided to order more projects and improve quality. As a result, we offer our international clients a large variety of fiction in all genres. Global buyers find it attractive and are buying more titles, gathering excellent ratings. For that reason, they come back for more," Hébrard affirmed.

Moreover, Virginie Boireaux, Managing Director at Have A Good One (HAGO), highlights that audiences are getting used to global shows, where fiction is the most diverse genre, aiming at almost all targets. "It makes sense that fiction is now the most exported genre. French shows have been very innovative the past few years, with titles that became great hits locally and proved to be very appealing to viewers worldwide," said Katia Sol, Co-founder of Oble. "Genre's diversity is a strength for French fiction, with ambitious period dramas, relatable comedies, and some gripping but also light crime procedural dramas. International audiences have discovered more French shows thanks to streamers but also linear broadcasters and their digital platforms. French touch and creativity have hooked them," she admitted.

Guillaume Pommier, Co-Head of Distribution at Federation Studios, affirmed that last year's global distribution of French fiction was led mainly by two IPs: "The Bureau" from Federation and "HPI" from Newen. "We see more and more clients being interested in French TV series, whether it's an early stage at a prefinancing level or a finished tape. There's a huge variety of channels and platforms willing to acquire foreign content; notably, French is one of those," he admitted.

Film & Picture has 95% of its catalog dedicated to fiction, and it is currently offering one outstanding project, "All This I Will Give to You," based on a book by Spanish writer Dolores Redondo. "The book was translated into 22 languages. This is its first adaptation, and it is being shot in a beautiful location in the South of France," commented Hébrard. "The book is a page-turner, a family saga. The characters are fascinating, and the story is very appealing, with many cliffhangers. It has all the ingredients of a gripping story: love, hate, crimes, revealed secrets, surprises, jealousy, money, and heritage issues," she described.

Fiction is also most of HAGO's catalog, and the company is currently promoting the series "LT-21", the first collaboration of the French distributor with the producers Emma Javaux (Une Fille Production) and Alain Attal (Trésor Productions). "The series is exceptional because it is a dystopian thriller in a 30' format, which is uncommon. This choice of episode length, surprising at first, is perfect for the series as the rhythm is very steady, and the balance along all eight episodes is completely perfect. It is the kind of series you can binge-watch without even noticing," Boireaux said. "The series' themes (pandemic, love, family) are accurate. The virus' symptoms are not graphic but quite frightening. The cast is immaculate, and the writing and directing of Melisa Godet is great," she added.

Furthermore, Oble's catalog is 100% fiction. "We are strongly convinced by the power of fiction to truly entertain and also change mindsets when it comes to global challenges," Katia Sol said. The company is promoting "The Plague," a prime-time miniseries for France 2. "It is a modern adaptation set in the very near future (2030) of 'La Peste' / 'The Plague' from the Nobel-prize winner Albert Camus, produced by Siècle Productions and written by Georges-Marc Benamou and Gilles Taurand," she commented. The title is directed by Antoine Garceau ("Call My Agent"), and Frédéric Pierrot ("In Treatment") is playing Dr. Rieux. "'The Plague' mirrors many of today's challenges and how ordinary people can rise and react under the worst circumstances. The series raises massive psychological questions and shows much humanity, making it inspirational for many people across the globe, regardless of their culture and origins," Sol concluded.

Fiction is also the primary genre for Federation's global offer. The French company highlights the "Follow" and "Vigilantes" series. "They are both the first productions of Victoire d'Aboville, producer at Bonne Pioche Stories. 'Follow' was awarded as 'Best Series' at La Rochelle, and 'Vigilantes' was incredibly well received by the market," Pommier stated. "Follow," produced for 13ème Rue channel in France, is a miniseries in the vein of "The Silence of the Lambs," but with a modern touch, while "Vigilante," produced for M6, is a procedural with Éric Cantona. Both titles demonstrate that our line-up is eclectic so we can address the different needs of all our clients," Pommier declared. "We are already in advanced negotiations on both titles, which is a great sign after only a month since we launched them," he added.