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German B.O. takes tumble

Consumer attitudes, cannibalization, World Cup may dent 2006

The German box office is coming off its worst year in a decade and 2006 could be equally challenging with local and international pics facing a slew of obstacles.

Ticket sales were down nearly 17% to E745 million ($890 million) last year and changing consumer attitudes, local pic cannibalization and World Cup soccer may dent this year’s crop of films.

Yet Peter Dinges, head of the German Federal Film Board (FFA), is hopeful that a strong selection of Teutonic titles will bolster the homegrown market.

Atop the list of concerns for the German Federal Filmboard are the results of a recent study showing clear signs of drastically changing attitudes among consumers toward moviegoing.

Not only is the explosion of media offers and abundance of high-tech gadgets competing increasingly with exhibs, but ever cheaper DVDs, home entertainment freebies and pirated movies have altered the way people view the value of film.

The FFA topper said that the strong showing of German pics at the Berlinale promised another good year for local film — last year German movies accounted for a 17% market share, down from 2004’s 24%.

However, most of that crop, including fest screeners such as “The Elementary Particles,” “Requiem” and “The Red Cockatoo” are all starting nationwide following the fest.

Dinges opined that the imminent release dates may reflect distrib concern over the World Cup soccer championship this summer.

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