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German film industry hopes forsummer release after slump

21 May 2004

BERLIN – Germany’s film industry slumped in the first quarter with both box office revenues and visitors down from the same period of 2003, according to the FFA’s (Federal Film Board) official report.

However, hard-pressed exhibitors are anticipating a great cinema summer with numerous blockbusters in the distribution pipeline.

Slated for early release at the end of May is German-born director Roland Emmerich’s disaster film, “The Day After Tomorrow”, followed in June by the latest Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” and then “Against the Ropes” with Meg Ryan and Omar Epps.

“Duplex”, starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore, is scheduled for a July launch. One of the summer highlights for the German film is to be Bully Herbig’s eagerly-awaited space parody “(T)Raumschiff Surprise – Episode 1” scheduled for July Herbig’s “Manitu’s Shoe” western spoof recorded nearly 11 million visitors in 2001.

The hopes for the summer come after a disappointing first quarter, when the box office take totalled EUR 213.1 million. This was down 9 percent from a year earlier despite a rise of 26 releases to 109 films, the FFA report said.

Only 37.0 million patrons passed through cinema portals, despite the 3.8 million visitors to “Lord of the Rings 3” between January and March after its launch in December.

Only three movies – “Something’s Gotta Give”, “Scary Movie 3” and “The Last Samurai” – attained the two million visitors mark, while the most successful German movie was “Das Sams in Gefahr” (The Sams in Danger) with 1.1 million tickets sold. One million is the benchmark for a successful film in Germany.

The average ticket price was EUR 5.76, up 18 cents from the first quarter of 2003. But with attendance on the wane, the exhibitors reduced prices in March to an average EUR 5.20.

Exhibitors were especially disappointed with the box office performance of domestic productions in the first quarter, with the German film’s market share capturing only 14.9 percent, down from 22 percent in the same 2003 period.

Made-In-Germany movies drew only 5.4 million visitors, compared with 8.6 million in the first quarter of 2003, when attendance was boosted by the “Good Bye, Lenin!” blockbuster, which drew 6.5 million.

Meanwhile, the consolidation on the exhibition side of the industry continued in the first quarter of 2004. By the end of the quarter, 4,854 screen units were still operating, down 14 screens, the first falloff in five years.

Overcapacity in the multiplex sector is largely blamed for exhibitor woes, combined with growing competition from DVD movie releases and the perennial inroads from television.


Subject: German news