German b.o. looks for summer boost

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MUNICH -- Film attendance in Germany is noticeably down from where it was at this point last year, with just under 50 million tickets sold as opposed to almost 59 million through early June in 2006.

On the plus side, at this point last year, Germans were about to begin avoiding the theater in droves. Last June 9 was the opening day of the world's biggest sporting event, soccer's World Cup, and pretty much the entire country was glued to their TV sets for much of the summer.

So the recent success of the third movies in the "Spider-Man" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises as well as high hopes for a slate of blockbusters planned for release over the next few weeks is giving Teutonic cinema owners reason to believe they can make up lost ground.

"Spider-Man 3" has earned nearly €21 million ($28 million) in Germany since its May 1 release and still sold almost half a million tickets in its fifth weekend for a total of more than 3 million admissions. "Pirates," meanwhile, has superseded that in less than half the time, with €28 million ($37.4 million) for 3.9 million tickets sold since its premiere May 24.

Next up is "Ocean's Thirteen," which hits movie screens this weekend and has received generally good reviews. The added bonus of having a starring role for Al Pacino, who has a devoted fan base in Germany, may make the third film in this series the most popular in the territory for its theatrical release.

And with the widely anticipated "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" premiering here July 12 -- the last "Potter" film made almost €53 million ($70.8 million) on 8.7 million tickets sold -- the deficits of the past six months will surely be made up by the end of the summer.
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