Although the number of French films produced last year decreased by a slight 3.3% from 1999's level, total investment in French films rose by 16% to $636m (Ffr 4.5bn) with a record seven titles (six of them period pieces) breaking the $14m (Ffr100m) budget mark - compared with just two in 1999.

Total investment in the Ffr100m-plus titles jumped from $58.3m (Ffr411m) to $170.1m (Ffr1.2bn). These included Le Pacte Des Loups $21.5m (Ffr152m), Le Roi Danse $18m (Ffr127m) and Le Prince Du Pacifique $16m (Ffr113m), released in 2000-2001; as well as Asterix et Obelix :Mission Cleopatre $44.9m (Ffr317m), Vidocq $21.5m (Ffr152m), Belphegor $14.9m (Ffr105m), and Laisser-Passer $14.7m (Ffr104m), which have yet to be released.

Overall investment in production reached $666.2m (Ffr4.7bn), including those foreign titles co-produced by French companies and backed by the CNC. Here again, the high-spending trend was confirmed, with French companies investing $28.9m (Ffr204m) - up from $25.1m (Ffr177m) in 1999- in only 26 titles (down from 31 in 1999) representing a total investment of $116.1m (Ffr819m) - up from $98.8m (Ffr697m) in 1999. The foreign investment in French films remained stable at $41m. (Ffr289m).

Pay-tv broadcaster Canal Plus was once again the most prolific investor in French productions, backing 115 films, to the tune of $135.2m (Ffr954m). Although the channel pre-bought only 70% of the French films produced last year (as opposed to 80% in 1999), its average contribution per film rose from $1m (Ffr7.2m) to $1.3m (Ffr8.9m).

The contribution of Canal Plus' film production subsidiary StudioCanal France (aka Le Studio Canal Plus) grew seven-fold to reach $39.4m (Ffr278m). StudioCanal France co-produced 24 films (including three foreign titles backed by the CNC) compared to 18 in 1999.

The free-tv sector remained a strong backer, investing a stable $79m (Ffr557m) in 95 titles, although the contribution of leading commercial channels TF1 and M6 decreased as well as the participation of cultural channel Arte.