Exhib fight batters German Film Board budget

Annual subsidies budget down $14.7 mil due to legal battle

COLOGNE, Germany -- The German Film Board's annual subsidies budget last year fell €11.5 million ($14.7 million) to €60.1 million ($77 million), largely as a result of an ongoing legal battle between the Board and several large German exhibitors.

The exhibitors object to a compulsory tax on movie tickets that is used to fund the Film Board. They see it as unfair since funding form German broadcasters to the Film Board is voluntary. The German government is rushing through a change in the country's film funding law that will force a similar compulsory levy on broadcasters.

Until the new law takes effect, the Film Board will have to keep tightening its budgetary belt.

Breaking down its figures for 2009, the Film Board said it paid out €15.5 million ($20 million) in production subsidies for 49 feature films; €18.7 million ($24 million) to help finance the distribution of German films; €12.6 million ($16 million) for art house theaters and home entertainment distribution and €10 million ($12.8 million) in so-called reference funding, based on a title's boxoffice performance.

Other outlays included €1.5 million ($1.9 million) for German-French co-productions; €800,000 ($1 million) for script development funding; €562,000 ($720,300) to back the production of short films and €321,000 ($411,000) for film training, research and innovation programs.