Rising unemployment, pic selection takes toll

BERLIN — Germany’s box office fell 11% in the first quarter of the year as rising unemployment, weakening consumer confidence and a dearth of audience-grabbing pics took their toll.

German theaters generated revenues of E181.5 million ($233 million) between Jan. 3 and March 27, compared to $262 million in the same period last year, according to preliminary figures from Nielsen EDI.

In the first three months of 2005, local distribs released 97 pics — two more than in 2004.

One booker said theaters could use more films like Sony Pictures’ “Hitch,” the year’s biggest hit so far with a cume of $26 million.

Other strong performers include United Intl. Pictures’ “Meet the Fockers,” which has grossed $22 million, and Warner’s “Blade: Trinity,” which managed $9.9 million.

With a market share of 24.1%, UIP is the leading distrib in Germany, followed by WB with 17.8% and Sony with 14.9%.

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