French film production has reached a massive 162 titles during 2001 (compared to 150 last year), and will top a record 200, including films in which French partners are minority co-producers (against 171 last year) according to the CNC (Centre National de la Cinematographie).

Fuelling the growth, the bullish trend for high-budget productions was extended during 2001, with some nine films coming in at Ffr100m-plus ($13.7m), compared to seven last year - which was itself a record at the time.

The most expensive French-language film this year was action comedy Le Boulet, with a $21.7m (Ffr158m) price tag, although, in itself, this does not compare with last year's Asterix Et Obelix : Mission Cleopatre, the most expensive French-language film to date, with a massive $43.6m (Ffr317m) budget.

2001 also witnessed a rise in the volume of smaller budget films - under $1.4m (Ffr10m), reflecting the increasing use of digital equipment.

The French broadcasters (primarily Canal Plus) remained the main backers of French film productions, their contribution representing an average 40% of the film's budgets.