Teuton exhib tix take tumbles

Local comedy hit boosts domestic B.O.

COLOGNE — The German film industry saw its highest B.O. market share in five years thanks to “Good Bye Lenin!,” yet exhibs’ takings have suffered from a slump in ticket sales.

Domestic productions took 16% of the box office pie in the first half of the year, with “Lenin!” nabbing more than half of the 11.3 million visitors of German films.

Admissions fell by 11.3% to 71.3 million compared with the same period in 2002, with sales dipping by 12.5% to e415 million ($469 million).

Germany’s Federal Film Board (FFA) attributed the slump to the early start of an unusually sunny summer, digital piracy of films and a weaker lineup of pics.

“Last year, we had three films attracting more than 5 million people (“Spider-Man,” “Men in Black II” and “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones”). This year we had none,” said booker Kai Krieg of chain CineStar. He also said moviegoers were tiring of sequels.

Sale of videos and DVDs were up 1.2%. Even this slight increase wouldn’t have been possible without the release of the second “Harry Potter” DVD in April, which upped sales in the first four months by 67%.

Since early June, record temperatures have taken their toll on theaters, with an average of only 800,000 moviegoers per weekend. “Normally, we have only two weekends per year with less than 1 million,” said Krieg. “It will be very hard to recover from that during the rest of the year.”