Study by France’s National Cinema Centre revealed a 23.6% drop in French films in first nine months of 2014.

French independent producers union SPI has sounded the alarm following a series of studies showing a dramatic slump in local film production.

According to a study released by the National Cinema Centre (CNC) at the end of last week, investment in French films fell by 23.6% in the first nine months of 2014.

The number of films registered with the state organisation fell by 12.7% year-on-year to 131, against 150 in 2013 and 144 in 2012.

The study found that films in the lower budget categories had been particularly hard hit, with eight less films in the €7-10m ($8.7-12.5m) range; six less in the €4-6m ($5-7.5m) range and eight less €1-2m ($1.25-2.5m) films being green-lighted.

There were also fewer films being made at the top end of the scale with just one production with a budget in excess of €30m ($37m) coming together, against three in the first nine months of 2013.

The number of co-productions involving a minority French partner remained steady at 46, against 43 in the same period in 2013.

In a separate study, the film technician’s body FICAM reported a 17% fall in films going production.

“This decrease has touched nearly all budget categories and necessitates a thorough study into its causes,” said producers union SPI in a statement.

It added that the production slump had been prompted by multiple factors led by a new labour accord for crew, or “collective convention”, which has bumped up costs; the concentration of investment in a small sector of the industry; current thresholds on the French credit d’impot tax credit schemes being too low;  the weakening of traditional distribution platforms and the lack of contribution from new digital players.

“According the national statistics office, the BIPE, the global economic impact of the cinema sector, in the strictest sense, is €7.5b ($9.3b). This fall in investment at the top of the chain will have a trickle down effect on jobs in sector as well as indirect and direct consequences for film production, the box office in 2015 and the export of French films,” continued the SPI statement.

“This downward trend echoes the crisis experienced by the music sector in recent years. Diversity in cinema production can but be an affirmation of a political will. Urgent measures are needed, without which we will assist in the slow decrease in the cinematic offering,” added the statement.

Solutions proposed by the SPI included a different division of the obligatory investment made by French public and private TV channels as well as an increase in the relief ceiling on the local tax credit scheme to 30% for films with a budget over €4m ($4-5m).