2009 Box Office Review - Germany - Part 1
German box office jumped 22.8% to €976.1 million in revenues for 2009 from €794.7 million the prior year, beating the 2001 record where there was an increase of 19.4%. With 449 releases this year, admissions also grew 13.1% to 146.3 million tickets sold from the previous year’s 129.4 visitors. Like most territories of the world, the success of 3D can be credited for the impressive figures.
The number one film of the year was Fox's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," which offered a 3D component for its audience and sold nearly 9 million tickets for a total box office take of €57 million across 875 prints at its widest release.
Warner’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” was second highest performer at €45 million, with the largest opening for the year at close to €17 million and a €20 thousand per screen average.
Fox’s “Avatar” opened on December 17 to €8.8 million in revenues from 1,128 screens for 58% market share and by the year’s end, had amassed €38 million in box office gold. Of the screens, 350 were 3D – 31% of screens, 70% of total box office.
Sony’s “Angels and Demons” controlled the number one spot at the box office for the longest period at 5 weeks, to earn €34 million and rank fourth for the year.
A record setting 27.4% market share for domestic film was led by two local productions, “Rabbit Without Ears 2” (€29 million) and “Vicky the Viking” (€28 million) which placed fifth and sixth in the overall top ten performing titles for the year. Domestic film attendance of 39.9 million visitors is up further over 2008’s 26.6% increase, which was the best record in FFA history.
Germany’s own Roland Emmerich managed to rank seventh for the year with his Sony disaster picture “2012” at a €25 million gross.
Both “Twilight” installments were in the top ten for the year with €25 million box office for the sequel and €18m for the original. Releases dates were ten months apart with the series being first introduced in mid-January.
Disney’s animated family picture “Up” produced €20 million for its take this year, ending up at #9 overall of best performing titles.
Prokino’s “Slumdog Millionaire”(€14 million) and Senator’s “The Reader” (€14.5 million) expanded on the core movie going audience by attracting older audiences and demonstrating an interest in a wide array of films from different genres. Both of these factors contributed to this year’s impressive performance.
Continuing a downward trend since 2006, 4,734 screens remain after another 76 were eliminated this year. There were 4,889 screens in 2005.
Tom Tykwer's 1998 breakthrough thriller "Run Lola Run," reignited a worldwide interest in German films and innovative works have followed. Wolfgang Becker's "Good Bye Lenin!" was a Golden Globe and Bafta nominee in 2004, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others" and Caroline Link's “Nowhere in Africa” won the best foreign-language film Oscar in 2007 and 2002 respectively, representing the wide array of interesting, unique German films over the past decade.
Television plays a dominant role in the financing of German cinema and there are many strong broadcasters in the territory. Broadcasters are eager for mainstream fare that is compatible with TV. Local comedy and bestseller adaptations rule the box office. Wide appeal films like Michael Herbig's adventure "Vicky the Viking" and Soenke Wortmann's bestseller adaptation "Pope Joan" (both Constantin productions) to Til Schweiger's romantic comedy "Rabbit Without Ears 2” exemplify this. But broadcasters also participate in edgier films like Michael Haneke’s dark Palme d'Or-winning “The White Ribbon.” A number of recent German films such as Oliver Hirschbiegel 2004's “Downfall,” “The Counterfeiters” and “The Lives of Others” follow this kind of riskier production by addressing the nature of totalitarianism in 20th Century Germany.
The number of people who are involved in the making of a film due to the subsidy-based system here, often times creates complications because of competing interests. In order for a German film to be successful, they primarily need to recoup in their home territory, which is more difficult for edgy, riskier films.
Today's biggest German producers include Bavaria Film, Constantin Film, Studio Hamburg and UFA.
Ellen Pittleman, http://hybridentus.com, is a veteran studio executive based in Los Angeles. Most recently, she served as SVP, International Co-Productions and Worldwide Acquisitions for Paramount Pictures. She also launched the DVD Premiere group there, with films including Jonathan Demme’s “Neil Young: Heart of Gold” and the sequel to the $100MM+ “Save the Last Dance.” Working from a marketing and distribution perspective, she consults on strategic planning, deal negotiation, acquisitions, film library valuation and feature development with clients from Rio to London to Beijing. She’s also currently developing a feature on George Foreman’s comeback years, among other projects.