German division's first film yields $3.6 million box office bow

Sony’s first production from its new Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion division, “Friendship!” grossed a whopping $3.6 million in its Jan. 14 opening weekend, second only to “Avatar.”

The Markus Goller-helmed film, which stars Matthias Schweighoefer (“Rabbit Without Ears”) and Friedrich Muecke, follows the misadventures of two empty-pocketed East Germans who travel to the U.S. after the fall of the Wall, financing their road trip by selling fake pieces of the Berlin Wall and stripping in gay bars.

“Considering the fact that it’s not a franchise and it doesn’t have a big star, it’s really a massive box office,” says Sony Pictures Releasing managing director Martin Bachmann, who added that the distrib was expanding its rollout by 55 prints as a result the pic’s success.

“It’s a breakout film for Matthias Schweighoefer.”

Largely based on the real-life experiences of producer Tom Zickler (“Rabbit Without Ears”), “Friendship!” was mostly shot in New Mexico to take advantage of the incentives there. The state stood in for much of the U.S.

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