Fewer Dutch films with more production investment and marketing clout behind them. That is what Doreen Boonekamp, director of the Netherlands Film Fund, is promising in the next four-year funding cycle, 2017-2020. 

“We say we really want to invest in quality and production value rather than in a huge number of films,” Boonekamp commented. “We will raise our contributions to individual projects to enable the teams to take enough time to develop their projects…we will also have more money available for marketing and distribution.”

Dutch box office has had a bumper year. In 2015, new data reveals, 33 million cinema tickets were sold, up considerably from the 30.8 million tickets sold last year

Local films achieved an 18.7% market share, slightly lower than the 20% achieved in 2014, but still an impressive number. “It’s extremely good when you compare it with the 0.8% (market share) back in 1994.

Overall revenue was up significantly in a year in which Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World did roaring business everywhere. Nonetheless Boonekamp suggests the improvement in local facilities also helped boost the box office. “The Dutch cinema industry has been investing in its venues, building new venues or renovating existing venues,” Boonekamp said.

For all the rise in admissions, these remain dangerous times for Dutch distributors. One leading company, A-Film, collapsed last year and others are known to be experiencing difficulty. The problems are well chronicled: a fading DVD market, a VOD market still in its infancy, huge competition for screen time and a glut of titles competing for the same audiences.

Last year, including docs and minority co-productions, 72 Dutch films were released. Some 38 were majority Dutch features. 

Boonekamp acknowledged that the Fund cannot influence the number of films produced through its automatic financing schemes but said that it can have an impact on production levels through its selective schemes. The Fund will now look to support around 20 features through selective each year (as opposed to the 25 or more it is currently supporting).

It is now 18 months since the Netherlands Film Production Incentive “cash rebate” scheme was put in place. The scheme has already supported more than 125 films (over 80 of them coproductions), several of them premiering in IFFR. These include opening film Beyond Sleep, Love And Friendship, Out Of Love and Problemski Hotel.

In a further boost to Dutch production, the Limburg Regional Film Fund has also recently put in place and will have around €500,000 to invest in films shooting in the area.