Home cooking for German b.o.

'Dwarves,' 'Perfume,' 'Fairytale' grab spots in top four

Fantasy and football are combining to create a true Cinderella story at the German boxoffice as local films of all genres are topping the charts in the territory.

Productions including fairy-tale spoof "Seven Dwarves 2," the Tom Tykwer thriller "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" and soccer documentary "Germany. A Summer Fairytale" are all outperforming Hollywood competition in the territory.

Ticket sales for German films this year have already topped the 21.5 million sold in 2005 and show no sign of slowing down. This weekend, five of the top 10 films in Germany, and three of the top five, were homegrown hits.

"Seven Dwarves 2" opened this past week at No. 1, selling just under a million tickets in its first four days of release, earning €5.5 million ($7 million). The comedy is the sequel to the 2004 mega hit, which took in $48 million in Germany alone.

"Seven Dwarves 2" beat out another local champ, "Germany. A Summer Fairytale," which moved down two spots to No. 3 behind "The Devil Wears Prada." The film, which follows the fate of Germany's national soccer team during the 2006 World Cup, has already earned the title of most successful documentary ever in the territory, selling 3.2 million tickets in just four weeks for a boxoffice gross of €19.8 million ($25 million).

The smell of success is also sticking to "Perfume," which slipped one rung to No. 4 in the national rankings. Director Tykwer's drama, about a scent-obsessed serial killer, has sold more than 5 million tickets in Germany, earning €35.5 million ($45 million) so far.

German art house productions also are cleaning up at the local boxoffice. Two indie comedies — X Filme's "A Friend of Mine" and Bavarian comedy "Wer frueher stirbt, ist laenger tot" — rank sixth and eighth on the current charts.

"A Friend of Mine," which features local stars Daniel Bruehl and Juergen Vogel, opened to €490,000 ($623,000) while "Wer frueher stirbt" is proving to be this year's sleeper hit. The black comedy, from first-time director Marcus H. Rosenmueller, has spent 11 weeks in the top 10 in Germany, earning €5.3 million ($6.7 million).

"I have the feeling things are getting better for German films," said Lothar Seelandt, managing director of indie distributor Movienet, which is handling "Wer freuher stirbt." "Younger audiences in particular are coming out to see German movies, which wasn't the case before."

So far this year, local productions have accounted for about 20% of total ticket sales in Germany, compared with 17% in 2005. Distributors are hopeful this year's returns could approach the record heights of 2004, when German films sold 36.7 million tickets, accounting for 24% of the total boxoffice take.