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Film body moves to cap salaries of 'overpaid' French actors

media French screen star Marion Cotillard at the Cannes Film Festival Reuters/Yves Herman

France’s Centre National du Cinéma, a body which subsidises French films, is to refuse grants for films in which actors are paid too highly, according to the French daily Les Echos.

The move is reportedly a bid to stem salaries which have been steadily rising since 2010, according to a study of the French cinema industry submitted to the government earlier this year.

Some in the industry agree. French film producer Vincent Maraval, who founded the distribution company Wild Bunch, penned an angry diatribe in Le Monde in 2012 entitled “French actors are paid too much.”

“The famous French film subsidy system only benefits a minority of successful stars”, he wrote.

“How come an actor like Vincent Cassel gets paid 226,000 euros for the US hit Black Swan (box office receipts: 226 million euros) while taking home 1.5 million euros for French movie Mesrine (box office receipts: 22.6 million euros)?” he asked.

He singled out for particular criticism the fees paid to Dany Boon, star of France’s biggest-selling box office hit at the time Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (2008, over 20 million tickets)

The French film industry benefits from a unique mix of subsidies. Advances are paid on ticket sales, regions provide funding, and television channels are legally obliged to subsidise the film industry.

The CNC takes 10.7% of every ticket sale, money which is then used to help finance other films, particularly less commercially viable projects.

Under new arrangements agreed on Friday, according to Les Echos, if a star is paid more than a certain percentage of the cost of the film production, the producer will receive no CNC funding.

For films with an estimated budget of 7 to 10 million euros, no employee on the film may be paid more than 5% of that estimate.

For films with a larger budget, the maximum salary payable would be 990,000 euros.




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