German movie going slips in Q1

Iraq war, DVD piracy blamed for 12% dip

BERLIN — While nearly 12% fewer Germans went to the movies in the first quarter of the year, local pics boosted their market share by more than 6% to 21.2%.

According to the German Film Board’s latest figures, released May 6, a number of factors contributed to falling attendance, down to 39.7 million viewers, and to the B.O.’s 12.6% drop to $269 million.

“The state of the economy, marked by lack of growth and declining demand, the political situation in Iraq, the intensification of DVD piracy, fewer strong revenue-generating films than in 2002 as well as the stabilization of admission prices” all had a lasting affect on Germany’s box office, the Film Board said.

On the bright side, the market share of local productions rose to 21.2% thanks to X Filme’s hit “Good Bye, Lenin!,” a bitter sweet comedy about a young man hiding the fact of East Germany’s collapse from his ailing mother. Pic has so far raked in $38 million in its 12-week run and beat all other films this year, U.S. pics included.

Constantin Film’s “The Flying Classroom” was another major contributor. Pic has garnered $9.5 million since its January release.

Despite the DVD boom of the past two years, the home entertainment sector saw a 1.2% drop in the first quarter. Even though there was modest growth in January and February, March saw an 11% drop in business likely due to the U.S. invasion of Iraq which had a negative affect on first quarter results.

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