Although the magic of the silver screen is the work of passionate creators, no film could see the light of day without partners to finance it. In France, BNP Paribas is a partner for half of all films, with more than a hundred productions in which the bank plays a role each year. In 2023 alone, through its various forms of intervention, the bank participated in the financing of major films including 17 that were in competition for the César awards (the French Oscars), and 11 that were presented at Cannes including the Palme d’Or winner “Anatomy of a fall” by Justine Triet that also picked up two awards at the Golden Globes ceremony, while being nominated 5 times at the Oscars and 11 times at the César in 2024. In Europe, the Group supports the production of an average of 250 films per year.
Cinema is in our DNA
Back in 1917, BNP Paribas was still called Banque Nationale de Crédit (BNC) when cinema entered its life: the Eclipse film production company requested and obtained from the BNC a credit facility of 300,000 francs, equivalent to 630,000 euros today. Since then, BNP Paribas has supported cinema through all its transformations, such as the advent of talkies, and in all areas, from distribution, to promotion and to the cinemas themselves – soundproofing, projections, seats, digital equipment – up to the recent advent of “augmented” cinema (4D, virtual reality, etc.).
BNP Paribas naturally became the first bank to support this industry in Europe. With its 70 experts, its Image & Media Business Centre, its subsidiaries Cofiloisirs and Cinécapital and its support for numerous festivals and films, the Group is a major funder of the film industry.
Financing a prototype industry
In the beginning, there is always a story. “Each project starts with a producer – an entrepreneur – who comes to tell us about the story they want to bring to the screen and to present their team”, explains Henri de Roquemaurel, Head of the Image & Media Business Centre at BNP Paribas. This unit and the associated subsidiaries are interested in all arts, media and cinema companies, and all types of projects, ideas and narratives.
If BNP Paribas is won over by this initial pitch, the Group will choose to finance all or part of the film. “We also sometimes look out for projects that are close to our hearts. We advance the cash necessary to produce the film, generally a credit facility running for 12 to 24 months on average” continues Henri de Roquemaurel, “while other financial partners – cinema operators, television channels, platforms, etc. – only provide funding upon delivery of the film”.
"Each project starts with a producer – an entrepreneur – who comes to tell us about the story they want to bring to the screen and to present their team."
Film financing: our key figures in 2024
dedicated to cinema in Europe
financed every year in Europe
films produced in France
are financed directly or indirectly by BNP Paribas
Supporting every stage of film production
During the development of the project, the producer, who determines the costs of the film, is in direct contact with BNP Paribas’ Media Account Managers. “It is essential to work with teams who understand the specificities of our projects. Production loans are specific financial products, with guarantees linked to copyright and intellectual property, which are covered by atypical contracts”, points out Henri de Roquemaurel.
Regarding independent producers, the Group operates through Cofiloisirs, which BNP Paribas (Dexia at the time) helped create in 1973 before taking full control in 2022. Its role is to finance all or part of a project, from its development through to its delivery to other financial partners. “For us, the priority is the upstream analysis: the budget, the financing plan, the share of unforeseen events financed… And the answer to key questions such as: who are the producer, the director, the technicians and the financial partners?” explains Jean-Baptiste Souchier, CEO at Cofiloisirs. “We provide our clients with all the expertise we have built up in financing over a hundred films per year for decades, in a sector which is transforming by leaps and bounds, with the arrival of powerful international players such as platforms or investment funds”.
"We provide our clients with all the expertise we have built up in financing over a hundred films per year."
Tailor-made financing solutions
Cofiloisirs offers three types of credits: development credits, preparation credits and production credits for the film strictly speaking. They are granted according to the financial quality of the project (budget coverage, quality of the receivables assigned, etc.) and the producer’s ability to deliver the film according to the specifications. “Our risk is directly linked to the making and delivery of the film before its release in cinemas. The experience of the producer, the team and the partners are therefore essential criteria for our analysis” concludes Henri de Roquemaurel.
BNP Paribas is also active through Cinécapital, a company dedicated to financing the film and audiovisual industry for over 30 years, in particular by advising on equity transactions (mergers and acquisitions, fundraising, etc.) and managing SOFICAs (companies for the Financing of the Cinematographic and Audiovisual Industry).
Created in 1985, SOFICAs raise funds to finance the audiovisual sector. They offer, through advantageous tax breaks, the possibility for individuals to invest in films and TV series. SOFICAs allocate 90% of their annual fundraising to direct coverage of the cost of making films and TV series and are essential to the sector: 40% of French films benefit from this system each year.
“Our speciality is to analyse the value of a work. In return for an amount invested in a film, the producer gives us revenue rights on its future exploitation. Our role is to get the best possible return on our initial investment and therefore to seek a complex balance between the cost and the commercial potential of a project” explains Diane Cesbron, CEO at Cinécapital. This analysis is carried out under the watchful eye of an investment committee, which determines the value before any decision concerning the script, artistic team, casting and distributor, etc.
of French initiative films
benefit from SOFICA funding each year
"Our speciality is to analyse the value of a work. Our role is to get the best possible return on our initial investment and therefore to seek a complex balance between the cost and the commercial potential of a project."
BNP Paribas’ passion for cinema is not confined to France. In fact, from Paris, the Group finances films for producers based throughout Europe. Each year, it provides loans to more than 150 European productions (in Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia and Luxembourg).
In Belgium, BNP Paribas Fortis supports the audiovisual sector through its subsidiary BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance, in particular through the tax shelter scheme. This system allows companies to invest their profits in audiovisual and stage productions. In 2023, the Belgian subsidiary raised 40 million euros through this mechanism. Since its creation in 2007, BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance has invested approximately 370 million euros in almost 700 projects.
In Italy, BNL BNP Paribas (Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, a fully owned subsidiary of BNP Paribas) has helped fund more than 5,000 films in 80 years. BNL BNP Paribas finances the production, distribution and export of films, and also supports the activities of technical industries and cinemas throughout the country.
FROM THE BIG TO THE SMALL SCREEN
BNP Paribas also contributes to documentary series, single films for television channels and is increasingly asserting itself in the SVOD – subscription video on demand – sector in Europe. Recently, the Group co-financed The New Pope (Canal +), Everything is fine (Disney +) and HPI (TF1), the best-selling French TV series worldwide.
The Three Musketeers and BNP Paribas, an ambitious project in an uncertain context
At a time when cinemas had to close their doors during the pandemic, Jérôme Seydoux and Dimitri Rassam decided to relaunch the saga of Alexandre Dumas, with director Martin Bourboulon. The latter already knew BNP Paribas, since they worked together for his film Eiffel.
“In this context, we felt like we were taking part in a real adventure, alongside solid producers with a well-established reputation. The project was ambitious: to produce two films at a time when the press was sounding the death knell of cinema” remembers Henri de Roquemaurel, with a smile.
To help the producers raise significant funds, BNP Paribas, via Cofiloisirs, supported them in finding sources of bank financing while they sought pre-purchases from television channels and international partners, many of whom are involved in this film. In total, the budget reached 72 million euros for the two parts of the saga, 95% of which was shot on location!
Raising the international profile of films
Although BNP Paribas supports films from their development to their production, the Group also helps promote several films. “At BNP Paribas, we are convinced that it is in a cinema that we experience the most intense emotions. So, we do all we can to get the public to attend!”, says Estelle Couty, Head of Cinema Partnerships at BNP Paribas. This support takes several forms.
“We invite many people to watch films on the big screen: cinema fans, customers, employees, the associations we support. These invitations are made via our festival partnerships, more than 40 around the world, our partner films and our platform welovecinema.bnpparibas”, continues Estelle Couty. This platform, available in France, Belgium and Italy, is positioned as a medium dedicated to film buffs.
BNP Paribas, passionate partner of cinema
people each year, around the world, invited
to experience the thrill of going to the cinema
cinema fans in Europe
on BNP Paribas’ We Love Cinema platforms
around the world
Imagining the cinema of tomorrow
Another of the Group's ambitions over the last century has been to support the next generation of filmmakers by helping three film schools and an association dedicated to young people (the Fémis, Cinéfabrik, Kourtrajmé and 1000 Visages) and by committing to the cinema of the future. The Group supports the “Action!” plan of the CNC (National Cinema Centre), a training programme that enables future industry professionals to better understand and integrate environmental issues into their work.
BNP Paribas often plays a “leading role” in the entire sector, all the way through to its audience. For example, for the release of Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar’ film Divertimento, in January 2023, BNP Paribas welcomed more than 1,000 young people from partner associations and invited the symphony orchestra of the same name to perform on stage after the screening.
More recently, descendants of D’Artagnan himself were invited to a preview of The Three Musketeers - Milady. “By organizing a screening event, we create an extra thrill. Cinema is a way to escape, to travel, to open up to the world. Its power is immense, and we want to share it with as many people as possible” concludes Estelle Couty.
"Cinema is a way to escape, to travel, to open up to the world. At BNP Paribas, we are convinced that it is in a cinema that we experience the most intense emotions."