Frustrating times for German film biz

10th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

10 February 2004, BERLIN - Germany's film industry had a frustratingly up-and-down year in 2003, according to figures released to coincide with the Berlin Film Festival. Highlights included box office stalwarts "Good Bye, Lenin!" and "The Miracle of Bern," which boosted attendance for made-in-Germany movies by an encouraging 17.5 percent. But on the down side, overall attendance dropped 9.1 percent, owing to growing film piracy, an unusually long and hot summer, a sluggish economy and a lack of blockbuster

10 February 2004

BERLIN - Germany's film industry had a frustratingly up-and-down year in 2003, according to figures released to coincide with the Berlin Film Festival.

Highlights included box office stalwarts "Good Bye, Lenin!" and "The Miracle of Bern," which boosted attendance for made-in-Germany movies by an encouraging 17.5 percent.

But on the down side, overall attendance dropped 9.1 percent, owing to growing film piracy, an unusually long and hot summer, a sluggish economy and a lack of blockbuster potentials.

The Federal Film Board's annual report, released at the 54th Film Festival, put attendance at 149 million visitors, down from 163.9 million at the end of 2002.

But German productions drew 25.3 million movie fans through cinema ticket booths, up from 19 million the previous year, the FFA report said.

Compared with 2002, when only three German films topped one million patrons, the hallmark for a successful movie in Germany, 2003 saw five movies breaching the one million barrier.

"Good Bye, Lenin!" headed the list with 6.4 million, followed by "The Miracle of Bern," 3.2 million, "Luther," 2.3 million, the children's movie, "The Flying Classroom" 1.9 million, and another version of the animated "Warner" comedies, 1.1 million.

"Lenin," a tragi-comedy, evoked a wave of nostalgia for the former communist German Democratic Republic and was a big winner in the European film awards.

Likewise, "Miracle" touched a German nerve with its story of Germany's come-from-behind victory against Hungary in the football World Cup of 1954, a morale lifter after the nation's devastating defeat in World War Two.

Although the EUR 850 million take at the box office was EUR 110 million less than in 2002, it could have been worse without late blockbuster releases, "The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King," which grossed over EUR 61 million and "Finding Nemo," which posted over EUR 42 million.

Earlier releases from the American majors, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," EUR 35.7 million at the box office, and "Matrix Reloaded," with EUR 30.5 million, also helped stave off disaster.

The number of screens remained constant at 4,686, confirming consolidation in the exhibition sector.

Biggest winner among exhibitors were the nation's multiplexes, whose 46.6 percent of box office take was only down slightly from the previous year.

Along with the recessive economic situation, growing film piracy and the long and hot summer, which kept Germans in the beer gardens and lake and mountain resorts, largely accounted for the drop in admissions.

Lack of American "event" films early on and increasing competition from DVDs likewise contributed to the box office malaise.

The home entertainment industry noted a growth of nine per cent thanks to a 45 percent increase in the number of DVD players in German households. Net proceeds of German software video suppliers reached a total volume of EUR 748 million from January through November, nearly reaching the box office total of all exhibitors.

Germany's film industry complaints were not alone. The FFA report noted that the film market reacted negatively throughout Europe in 2003 to the slumping economy and lacklustre film attractions.

France, Britain, Italy, and Spain also suffered box office losses, likewise the United States, which following eleven years of growth, experienced a minus in the box office grosses.

DPA
Subject: German news 

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