Country takes to homegrown stories

A gothic tale of a killer who follows his nose, a slapstick fairytale, a look at the World Cup and a devastating chronicle of domestic espionage contributed to a 10% boost at the Teutonic box office in 2006.

The hugely successful local hits “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,” “7 Dwarves — The Woods Is Not Enough,” “Germany: A Summer Fairytale” and “The Lives of Others” together accounted for $120 million in grosses — 17% of the total $706 million generated at the German B.O. (through Dec. 10).

Hollywood still dominated with the likes of “Ice Age: The Meltdown” ($65 million), “Pirates of the Caribbean 2″ ($63 million), “The Da Vinci Code” ($52 million) and “Casino Royale,” which has so far pulled in $32 million.

Underachievers at the Teutonic box office include “Superman Returns,” which made only $4 million. In Germany, comicbook heroes face a never-ending battle for cinematic recognition.

“X-Men: The Last Stand” was a notable exception. Benefiting from the well-received previous installments and the popularity of Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman, the edgy mutants grossed $13 million.

Teutons appear unaffected by singing penguins, as seen by the performance of “Happy Feet,” which made just $4.4 million in its first four weeks.

While not exactly a poor showing, film failed to duplicate its huge Stateside success, leading one local exhib to opined that Teutonic tykes may be getting CGI critter overload due to the slew of animated films of late.

On the other hand, UIP’s “Over the Hedge” enjoyed excellent business, garnering $23 million, as did BVI’s “Cars” ($15 million) and Constantin’s locally produced live-action/CGI-animated “Hui Buh, the Goofy Ghost” ($14 million).

The biggest surprise was Marcus Rosenmueller’s “Grave Decisions.” The family film struck a chord, remaining in the top 10 for an impressive 14 weeks and grossing $9 million.

Film’s perf added to an autumn of optimism for German films.

The smashing success of “Perfume,” “Germany: A Summer Fairytale” and “7 Dwarves” — each of which held the No. 1 spot for three consecutive weeks — boosted the B.O. share of local films to 26% this fall.

The B.O. also saw strong local performers at the beginning of the year, such as BVI’s European Film Award favorite “The Lives of Others” as well as Constantin’s “Elementary Particles.”

Thomas Menne, BVI’s VP of sales and marketing, says the increasing success of local productions reflects a vast improvement in German scripts and in the fact that today’s Teutonic filmmakers are more successfully meeting the taste of mainstream auds.

“Without doubt there is a clear improvement in scriptwriting and storytelling that allows all of us to release more commercial local movies,” says Menne.

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