German Box Office Drops 15 Percent in First Half

Courtesy of Marvel Studios
'Avengers: Infinity War' was the number one film in Germany so far this year.

The soccer World Cup and a record-hot summer hurt the performance, but local films were strong, accounting for 22 percent of total admissions.

A record hot summer and competition from the soccer World Cup caused the box office to wilt in Germany, with overall revenue falling 15.3 percent in the first half of this year to $502.7 million (€439.1 million).

Official figures released Monday by the German Federal Film Board painted a grim picture, with a similar 15 percent drop in overall admissions. Just 51 million tickets were sold in the first half of 2018, more than 9 million fewer than during the same period last year.

Disney's Avengers: Infinity War was the top-grossing title of the year to date, pulling in 3.3 million German fans with a total box office of more than $44.5 million. Universal took the second and third spots on the overall list, with Fifty Shades Freed ($33.7 million) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($29.5 million).

German Film Board chair Peter Dinges blamed the scorching weather and soccer for keeping fans out of theaters, but admitted there were few big hits so far in the country among this year's releases.

One bright spot were local-language features, which drew 11.3 million admissions over the first half, nearly a million more than in the same period last year. German features —including children's film Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver ($12 million) and The Little Witch ($11.9 million) and dramedy This Crazy Heart ($19 million) — accounted for 22.4 percent of total admissions over the first half, up from 18.2 percent in the first half of 2017.

But there are indications that the German market could be ripe for consolidation, not least because the screen count (4,812 screens in 1,671 locations) is the highest it's been in a decade.

Observers also point to a flood of new releases, few of which managed to find a significant audience. There were fewer U.S. releases in the first half of this year in Germany — 70 new films, compared to 87 in the first half of 2017 — but a total of 119 local releases over the same period, against 120 over the same period last year.

With overall box office falling and ancillary revenues shrinking in Germany, it's clear something has to give.