'Reader' a hit at German boxoffice

Revival of fortunes for distributor Senator

COLOGNE, Germany -- "The Reader" debuted at No. 1 in Germany this weekend, marking the strongest start for local distributor Senator Film since homemade hit "The Miracle of Bern" more than five years ago.

Some 360,000 Germans lined up to see the Kate Winslet starrer's opening weekend, more than enough to give it the top spot ahead of local kids film "Lilly the Witch" (240,000 admissions) and last week's topper, the Jim Carrey comedy "Yes Man" (160,000 admissions).

"Reader's" $3.3 million boxoffice take in Germany came from just 359 prints, about 100 fewer than "Lilly" and more than 200 less than "Yes Man."

The film's success here is in contrast to its somewhat middling boxoffice performance in the U.S., where the film has taken in just $27 million.

Senator is hoping "Reader" can revive its fortunes. The Berlin-based producer/distributor has been teetering on the brink for months but pulled out all the stops for this release. Timing the bow for just after the Academy Awards paid off when Winslet took home the Oscar for best actress.

"This is a landmark success for Senator Film," said CEO Helge Sasse, who added that "Reader" validated his strategy of shifting Senator away from U.S. acquisitions toward more German and European titles.

Despite being filmed in English, "Reader," adapted from the Bernhard Schlink bestseller, was shot entirely in Germany, features several local actors, including co-star David Kross, and received substantial German film subsidies.