Despite a bad year, German film industry is upbeat
All signs point to an upswing in the German film market.
Berlin (dpa) - Even though 2007 failed to live up to expectations, all signs indicate an early upswing in the German film market, including international productions with Hollywood stars, and a more positive image of made-in-Germany films.
At a press conference ahead of the start of the Berlin Film Festival, Peter Dinges, chairman of the Federal Film Board (FFA), waxed optimistic about the industry despite an 8.2 per cent drop in attendances last year to 125.4 million.
"Expectations are high, but unfortunately the figures are bad," according to Dinges. "Nevertheless, I see optimism in the trade, film studios operating at capacity, high budgets, and - in contrast to the bad year 2005 - no crisis in the cinemas."
The chairman stressed that last year's slump was not caused by the usual complaints - too much variety and too many releases. In 2007, there were 484 new releases - three fewer than 2006, while domestic German productions totalled 174, identical to the previous year.
The "cinema-going pleasure" started in 2006 has continued as seen by the number of new or newly-renovated theatres, which rose to 118 last year, the biggest growth seen since 1999, Dinges said.
At the same time, almost every fifth German purchased a ticket for a German-made film, with an 18.9 per cent market share worth 23.4 million euros ($34.1 million) at the box office compared with the record year 2006 when then intake was 34.6 million euros.
Despite the falloff, the chairman stressed that the industry was acting in "a pleasing high level, which for a long time we never had dared to dream of."
He pointed out that the Oscar for The Lives of the Others showed that German films were in demand abroad as seldom before. And two the FFA-supported films, The Mongolian and The Counterfeiters - nominated for an Academy Award in the foreign language category this year - achieved international recognition.
In 2007 the growing reputation of the trade and the possibility to produce large international movies in Germany was essentially due to the federal government's newly created German Film Promotion Fund (DFFF), according to the FFA report.
The DFFF reportedly handed ou funds for about 34 international co- productions, among them 4.8 million euros last summer towards the production costs of Valkyrie, an 80-million-dollar epic starring Tom Cruise about a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler.
Actor Matt Damon had also acted in a Berlin production, likewise Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon, while Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes are expected in Berlin this spring, the national daily Suedeutsche Zeitung reported.
The Berlin-Brandenburg Media Board also earmarked 23.2 million euros to support 120 productions, drawing an additional 118 million euros from other sources and contributing the industry's boom in the German capital.
The number of film companies in Germany totalled 1,228 in 2007 compared with 1,219 the previous year, the Federal Statistics Board in Wiesbaden reported. The number of cinemas totalled 1,812, down from 1,823 the year before.