Refugee Crisis Comedy Is Germany's Top Film of 2016

Welcome to the Hartmanns'
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Germany

'Welcome to the Hartmanns' has earned more than $20 million in local release, making it the No. 1 German-language title of the year.

A broad comedy about the European refugee crisis has become Germany's top local-language film of the year, earning more than $20 million to date.

Welcome to the Hartmanns, directed by Simon Verhoeven, earned a further $2.1 million over the weekend with some 230,000 admissions, taking its total to 2.1 million admissions. It is on track to shoot by Verhoeven's top-grossing film, Men in the City (2009), which earned $20.3 million in Germany.

The movie stars veteran actor Senta Berger as Angelika Hartmann, a well-to-do Munich socialite who decides, in the wake of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-border policy of 2015, to take in an African refugee (played by Belgian actor Eric Kabongo). Angelika wins out, despite her husband's objections ("Merkel might have invited in the whole Third World, but we're not going to!” fumes Dr. Hartmann, played by Heiner Lauterbach) and culture-clash issues, including rising xenophobia from their spooked German neighbors.

Warner Bros. Germany is handling the release of the film in Germany and Austria. Hartmanns was produced by Wiedemann & Berg (The Lives of Others), Sentana and Seven Pictures.

The movie's combination of political hot topic and easy laughs, as well its all-star cast (box-office draws Elyas M'Barek and Florian David Fitz co-star) has made the film a hit. It is the only German title to crack the top 10 at the local box office this year, which has been dominated by U.S. blockbusters.