×

BERLIN — Young sexy terrorists, fascist high school kids and nature documentaries have contributed to a good year for Germany’s indie sector.

The local market appears very healthy, with powerhouse Constantin Film again leading the country’s non-Hollywood-studio-aligned distribs thanks to a muscular slate that included such boffo hits as “The Wave,” “Asterix at the Olympic Games” and, more recently, “The Baader Meinhof Complex.”

Constantin’s top five pics this year, which also include “Step Up 2 the Streets” and teen comedy “Freche Maedchen” (Cheeky Girls), generated a total of $60 million. The Munich-based company’s success reflects a box office strategy that includes a broad palette of product, much of it aimed at the young moviegoing demographic.

Family fare is a favorite among Teutonic auds. Nature docu “Earth,” handled by RTL Group’s Universum, remains the biggest local moneymaker of the year, having grossed $30 million. The success of German-U.K. co-production catapulted Universum to second place among distribs, followed by Tobis, which scored big with romantic drama “P.S. I Love You,” starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, which took in nearly $19 million locally.

Tobis also has a current hit with “Burn After Reading,” which enjoyed the best start ever for a Coen brothers film in Germany; pic has so far cumed $5.8 million.

While the indie sector as a whole appears to be doing well, not all distribs are celebrating. At Berlin-based Senator Entertainment, business took a dive. Poor B.O. performances from releases such as “The Mist” and “Be Kind Rewind” resulted in a $15 million net loss in the first half of the year, forcing Senator to slash its full-year revenue forecast by half.

Following the exit of chief creative officer Marco Weber, Senator said it would cut the number of international acquisitions and beef up German productions and co-productions.

This year also saw the takeover of Kinowelt by France’s StudioCanal.

And more change is on the horizon. RTL looks certain to alter the playing field in the coming year with the launch of production-distribution company UFA Cinema, which it will operate parallel to Universum. With a massive production slate in the works, the new shingle could be poised to become the country’s second-biggest producer-distrib.

Managed by former Constantin distribution chief Thomas Friedl and UFA topper Wolf Bauer as well as Nico Hofmann and Juergen Schuster of UFA-owned TV production shingle TeamWorx, UFA Cinema is focusing on its production slate before it develops its distribution division. It’s developing 11 high-profile productions, including a slew of bestseller and classic adaptations.

UFA execs haven’t ruled out partnering with a U.S. major, with speculation running high that it may form an alliance with Paramount when the major launches its German distribution arm next year, but no decision has been made.

B.O. 2008

$585 million (to Oct. 12)

Top title

“Mamma Mia!” ($34 million)

Recent pickups

“Brooklyn’s Finest” (Kinowelt)

“Milk” (Constantin)

“Rudo y Cursi” (Tobis)

“Slumdog Millionaire” (Prokino)

“Twilight” (Concorde)