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German box office rises 13.5%

$582.4 million taken during first half of year

BERLIN — Suffering little impact from the financial crisis — or perhaps as a result of the ongoing economic woes — the German box office enjoyed a 13.5% boost in the first half of the year — its best showing for the time period over the past five years.

Exhibs rang up Euros 409.5 million ($582.4 million) in ticket sales in the first six months of the year as admissions climbed 7.5% to 62.8 million, thanks to a wide selection of international and local hits. Leading the way were Sony’s “Angels & Demons” — with $47.1 million, the biggest moneymaker between January and July — and Concorde’s “Twilight,” which grossed $24 million.

Announcing the figures in Berlin on Thursday, Andreas Kramer, head of exhib association HDF Kino, said the number reflected the success of many smaller films, rather than just one or two blockbusters, that managed to draw older auds. Among these were Warner’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” as well as “Slumdog Millionaire” and French laffer “Welcome to the Sticks,” both distributed by Prokino.

Also boosting cinema attendance were hit domestic productions such as Senator Film’s “The Reader,” which grossed $20 million here, Disney’s “Lilly the Witch” and, from Constantin Film, local laffer “Maennersache,” and teen pics “The Wild Chicks and Life” and “Freche Maedchen” (Cheeky Girls).

Local exhibs have even more reason to be giddy looking forward to the second half of the year. “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which hit theaters July 1, has become the biggest hit so far this year with $52.4 million and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” took in $24 million in its first weekend — the same amount “Twilight” grossed in its entire theatrical run here.

“It’s really wonderful, especially when you compare it with the entire economic situation in the Federal Republic (of Germany),” said Johannes Klingsporn, head of the country’s association of film distributors, VdF.

Other high-profile titles hitting theaters this year include Universal’s “Inglourious Basterds,” Constantin’s tentpole tyke adventure “Vicky the Viking” and Warner’s “Zweiohrkueken,” the sequel to its 2007 mega hit “Keinohrhasen” (Rabbit Without Ears).

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