2009 Box Office Review - Germany - Part 3
German titles, including German co-productions, make up almost 26% of the overall box office this year. The market share is flat to last year with 182 releases this year, of which 14 earned more than €5 million.
Warner’s Til Schweiger sequel to his own 2007 hit “Rabbit Without Ears” is the most successful locally produced picture followed by Constantin’s kid comedy “Vicky the Viking.” “Rabbit Without Ears 2” released December 3 and is a personal best for Schweiger as he directed, co-produced, co-wrote and stars in the film.
Sonke’ Wormann’s historical drama “Pope Joan” is third, followed by WWII parody from Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds.” Though Tarantino’s anti-Nazi ”Inglourious Basterds” may not be a local film in the most strict sense, it was shot at the historic Babelsberg film studio. Babelsberg Studios was one of the world’s most important studios in the 1920s and a rival to Hollywood at the time. Unfortunately, it had its reputation tarnished when the Nazis and later Communist East Germans used it to make propaganda films so it's somewhat apropo for this film to be shot here.
Senator’s “The Reader” (€14.5 million) finished fifth of the top ranking local pictures across 359 theaters and a widest print release of 490.
This past year exhibitors, including multiplex group UCI Kinowelt and home entertainment distributors, went to court to argue that the German Federal Film Board (FFA) tax that they are required to pay is unconstitutional because TV broadcasters also benefit from the tax; yet for television broadcasters, the levy is voluntary. The cost of the tax amounts to between 1.8% and 3% of net annual turnover insofar as more than €75,000 net turnover is reached for each cinema screen. The film levy for the video distributors amounts to between 1.8% and 2.3% of the net annual turnover.
A number of exhibitors had previously paid the tax with a stipulation that blocked the FFA from spending the money until the matter is settled. The FFA has an annual budget of around €70 million and there is concern that production could be cut in half as a result of the dispute. Also, many production companies may sink into bankruptcy as a result but it will most certainly affect international productions and the German film market. Consequently there is an urgency to resolving the inequity that seems to exist as quickly as possible so that German film can continue to flourish.
Recent films that have received FFA support are Stephen Daldry's Oscar-winning "The Reader" and Michael Hoffman's Leo Tolstoy €88 million biopic "The Last Station," starring Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer.
Upcoming German productions for the year include Uli Edel's "Zeiten aendern dich," a rags-to-riches story of a Berlin rapper, loosely based on the life of hip-hop artist Bushido, who also stars.
Doris Dörrie’s and Laila Stieler’s “The Hairdresser” from Constantin Film is a bittersweet drama set in an East Berlin suburb. Dörrie’s last film, “Cherry Blossoms — Hanami,” was one of the most successful local productions of 2008 earning €6.9 million at the German box office and more than 1 million admissions.
Also from Constantin, “Jerry Cotton,” a tongue-in-cheek action comedy set in 1960s New York. Producer Rat Pack Filmproduktion, a division of Constantin was behind “Vicky The Viking” and is looking for a potential franchise with this most successful German pulp fiction series and a new installment of the “Resident Evil” franchise is forthcoming.
Tom Tykwer’s first feature film in German since “Run, Lola, Run” as well as the first original script he has written since 2000’s “The Princess And The Warrior,” “Three” from X Verleih is the story of a love triangle that takes place in Berlin.
Walt Disney Germany will release musical “Rock It” in an effort to replicate its success from the German version of “High School Musical”(€13 million).
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.