‘List’ hits big B.O. in Germany

“Schindler’s List” has met what many predicted would be its toughest market — Germany — and conquered it hands down.

Following its Frankfurt gala debut last Tuesday, “Schindler” opened nationwide two days later on 45 screens, drawing 98,000 visitors over the weekend.

In Berlin, as in most of the 31 theaters where lines went around the block, it sold out all nights.

Official sources are hesitant to comment on grosses (perhaps because most school groups and Jewish organizations went on freebees), yet unofficial sources put weekend gross at around 418,893 DM ($ 240,743).

Distributor UIP appears to have been taken by surprise regarding the early overwhelming success of its multi-Oscar-nominated pic. UIP Germany topper Fred Sorg told Variety in February that “Schindler” would start slow and after the Oscar nominations were released, more prints would be made available after the film “caught on.” But in a press release Monday the distributor sited “technical difficulties” for its lack of copies.

UIP now promises an additional 70 screens by the March 10, and another 100 by March 17, the pre-Oscar weekend.

State governments are falling on each other to announce their official backing of the film and recommend it for school curricula. And “Schindler” is riding on a wave of lavish and highly positive German media coverage unheard of in recent memory.

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