'Harry Potter,' 3D Magic Helps German Box Office to $1.2 Billion in 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. is the territory's top distributor for the third year running, while Concorde leads independents.

COLOGNE, Germany -  The 3D boom continues, at least in Germany, where 3D blockbusters Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Transformers: Dark of the Moon helped boost box office take 3.8 percent last year to $1.19 billion (€913.6 million), according to preliminary figures released by Rentrack.

The German Film Board will release final figures in early February, which are expected to add a further $50 million to the total, making 2011 the best-year ever for German cinemas. Though the industry here had hoped for more - namely to crack the €1 billion ($1 billion) for the first time ever.

Admissions were also up slightly, at 120 million according to Rentrack's preliminary numbers, 1.6 percent above a weak 2010 when cinema owners saw their theaters empty during the soccer World Cup. With both the London Olympics and the European Soccer Championships scheduled for this summer, distributors will have a hard time matching, much less beating that target in 2012.

Warner Bros. took the German box office crown for the third year running, helped by the final Harry Potter, which led the charts with a $75 million take. Warner also released the top German film of the year, Til Schweiger's rom-com Kokowaah, which earned $40 million and was the third-most successful film in the territory.

On the independent front, Concorde Film defended its position as the country's leading indie distributor, thanks to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, which tallied up $31 million in Germany. Concorde also had a series of smaller successes with its art house slate, which included local comedy sleeper Almanya ($12 million take) and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris ($6.6 million). But Senator Films had the number one art house title of the year with Oscar-winner The King's Speech, which earned nearly $22 million in Germany.

German comedies scored big in 2011. In addition to Kokowaah and Almanya, German laffers What A Man ($16 million) and Men in the City 2 ($12.3 million) were huge hits. Wim Wenders' 3D dance film Pina, Germany's candidate for the foreign language Oscars and a documentary Oscar candidate was a surprise hit, grossing $5.6 million in Germany. And there were several strong English-language German co-productions, including The Three Musketeers ($15 million) and Carnage ($5.4 million).

All told, German films' share of the total box office jumped to 18.4 percent last year and local productions accounted for 20 percent share of all tickets sold.