European Animation Industry

Animation studios in European countries such as France and Spain have emerged as the market leaders in Europe. This is in part driven by the proactive steps taken by the governments of these countries by offering a range of tax breaks. The European animation studios started partnering to produce animation content for Television. These alliances resulted in content suited for local population. This is particularly seen in countries such as France, UK, Germany and Spain.

However the European animated feature film industry is still has not achieved the popularity and global appeal of their American counterparts. The feature film industry is more expensive and riskier. However this medium has attracted the interests of animators in Europe, who have been building on their capabilities of producing animation content for TV. International marketing is a key area for improvement for European animation studios. There are very few European films with trans-national success. This is partly due to the diverse cultural backgrounds. However this is undergoing change with a small number of local European productions enjoying European and global success. This includes films such as Chicken Run, Belleville Rendezvous etc.

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In France, the Centre de Nationale de la Cinématographi (CNC) provides a range of subsidies for animation projects to support both production and distribution. CNC also provides funds to support the production of pilot programmes, which gives French producers a competitive advantage in obtaining international sales. The Spanish animation industry has low labor costs relative to other Western European countries. It is therefore supported by work subcontracted from other European studios, including some from the UK. Spain’s top two producers are based in the Catalan region where the public service broadcaster, TV3 has been a key supporter of animation. Such support can make a significant difference to animators. Production of animation in Germany is also booming, with major studios centered in Berlin, Hamburg and elsewhere, often working in association with studios and support services in the former East Germany and other Eastern European states. With large investments from such major players as Bertlesmann, the Kirch Group and Ravensburger, German producers are well positioned to play an increasingly dominant role.Eastern Europe, which has a tradition of producing high quality animation, is also a beneficiary of the global expansion in animation. Again, one of the distinct advantages of Eastern Europe is low labor costs, and like Spain and the Far East, it benefits from work subcontracted from other territories.

Unlike France - where the industry is very much based in Paris - Germany's lack of one main production center is something of a problem. But the federal structure does have its benefits since, as with live-action production, the German states vie with each other to attract animation studios to locate to their region by providing attractive incentives. This is reflected in the seven leading animation studios for the production of features: Hahn Film and Cartoon Film Rothkirch are based in Berlin, TFC Trickompany and Animationsstudio Ludewig in Hamburg, Motion Works in Halle, and Trixter Film and Munich Animation Film in Munich. Added to these players are the production companies active in the animation sector who do not have their own physical studio, ranging from Senator Filmproduktion and Greenlight Media through ndF neue deutsche Filmgesellschaft and RTV Family Entertainment to Warner Bros. Not to mention the many small outfits dotted around the country who work primarily for television or advertising such as Toons 'n' Tales, Scopas Medien and Studio Film Bilder.
The German animation film studios also work in part as networks since they often don't have the capacity for the production of a feature film. Moreover there are components like 3D animation which are only available in certain studios. Thus, The Little Polar Bear involved the cooperation of four German animation studios: Cartoon Film Rothkirch, Motion Works, Animations-fabrik Hamburg, and Animationsstudio Ludewig. About three animation features have been produced in Germany each year since 1997. A volume of annually seven to ten German films could be well managed by the local cinema market and would also give the studios the possibility to hold on to their valuable creative personnel and occupy them on a continuous basis. Three films annually, however, are not enough to keep the existing studio capacities busy. All feature film producers are therefore also producers of TV series at the same time.