German exhibs bullish on '07 after Cup year

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COLOGNE, Germany -- German distributors have emerged unscathed from a soccer World Cup that saw audiences here glued to their TV sets and are set to see boxoffice revenue increase 5%-10% this year.

That's according to a report by the German association of film distributors, which announced Tuesday that weekend revenue this year is up 10% over 2005.

German theaters pulled in €540 million ($715 million) in the first 49 weekends of 2006, with a total of 85 million tickets sold, the association said.

"2006 was a year with very strong films that pulled millions into the movies," said Johannes Klingsporn, managing director of distributor association VdF. He cited Hollywood blockbusters including "Ice Age: The Meltdown," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and "The Da Vinci Code" as well as such homegrown hits as "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer."

The performance of German films was particularly impressive this year. Local productions accounted for a near-record 25.7% of total tickets sold in the territory in the first nine months of 2006.

Three German productions made the boxoffice top 10 this year: Constantin Films' "Perfume," with more than $50 million; Kinowelt soccer documentary "Germany. A Summer Fairytale" ($31.5 million); and fairytale spoof "7 Dwaves 2," released by United International Pictures in Germany, which brought in $24.8 million in the territory.

There also was a strong second tier of German independent. Led by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's Lola winner "The Lives of Others" ($14.3 million), this group ran the gambit from kids films "Hui Buh: The Castle Ghost" ($13.8 million) and "The Wild Soccer Bunch 3" ($13.1 million) to the dark humor of Marcus Rosenmueller's debut film "Grave Decisions" ($9.1 million).

The VdF is confident the upward trend will continue in the coming year, thanks to a flood of high-profile sequels including "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek 3" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
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