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Highlights - 10/10/2005
A look at German cinema in the network
On the occasion of the 10th Festival of German Cinema in Paris, let's have a look at the recent good results of German films in the network's cinemas, with the example of Head-on.
The 10th Festival of German Cinema in Paris will take place from 12 to 18 October at L'Arlequin cinema, which has just joined the Europa Cinemas network. The festival, which traditionally takes place in this cinema near Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse, includes among others a selection of films highlighting not only some of the year's most awarded German films (Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage) but also films of young directors with increasing success (Sommer vorm Balkon, a comedy by Andreas Dresen, screenplay winner at San Sebastián, shown at the opening of the festival).
German films have benefited from renewed interest over the last few years, undoubtedly due to the popular success of some big films but also to the emergence of a number of young filmmakers. "Interest in German cinema had made a great leap forward, following the surprise success of Good Bye Lenin!, says Cristina Hoffman, the representative of German Films in France. Then, Head-On (Gegen die Wand) and Downfall (Der Untergang) accentuated this phenomenon. Previously, the spotlight had already fallen on Run Lola Run (Lola rennt) which had been a very successful export but which had had somewhat disappointing results in France. Beyond these films which attract large audiences we should also note the resurgence of interest in films d'auteur, such as Distant Lights (Lichter) or This Very Moment (Milchwald), which haven't, however, had much success so far."
The results for German films in cinemas supported by Europa Cinemas are indicative of recent developments. In these cinemas, just one German film achieved over 100,000 admissions outside Germany in 2002: Bella Martha (Drei Sterne), by Sandra Nettelbeck. In 2003, Good Bye Lenin! approached a million ticket sales in network cinemas outside Germany, followed by Nowhere in Africa (Nirgendwo in Afrika), which exceeded 100,000 admissions.
But, following the Good Bye Lenin! phenomenon, the real change may have taken place in 2004. Good Bye Lenin! actually achieved nearly 300,000 admissions outside its country of origin last year. But two important films were close behind: Head-On (300,000 admissions outside Germany) and The Story of the Weeping Camel (nearly 220,000 admissions). Downfall, which was just beginning its run, had already achieved 85,000 admissions outside Germany in network cinemas.
The importance of the role of film theatres in the Europa Cinemas network on the success of the film Head-On by Fatih Akin is especially remarkable. You could suppose that 44% of the film's admissions in 2004 were in network cinemas. But actually, 50% of the film's admissions outside Germany were in network cinemas, with 99% of the 12,000 Danish admissions in network cinemas, 94% in Sweden (out of 3,800), 85% in Belgium (out of 36,000), 66% in the Netherlands (out of 55,000), 64% in Austria (out of 38,000), 59% in Italy (out of 190,000), 48% in Hungary (out of 5,800), 45% in Greece (out of 14,000), 40% in Germany (out of 762,000), 37% in Spain (out of 99,000), and 20% in France (out of 124,000).
While network cinemas are playing a more important role in the success of a film which falls more into the category of film d'auteur, the success in these cinemas of Fatih Akin's film, which does not fall into an obvious category, gives hope for other, similar successes.
In comparison, the run of This Very Moment (Milchwald), Christoph Hochhäusler's first film, reveals the precariousness of young German films and the importance of network cinemas on their success. Warmly greeted by all French critics, the film was released in French cinemas at the end of the summer of 2004 with just 5 prints and achieved, in total, 11,450 admissions. The film had not been distributed in Germany.
Economically speaking, you could assume that the French distributor, ASC Distribution, barely broke even. In the network cinemas, the film attracted 7,300 viewers (that is, 64% of the film's admissions). Even if we cannot fail to be delighted at these results, let's hope that the director's second film, shown at Cannes this year, achieves a success equal to the filmmaker's plans. Falscher Bekenner will be released in Germany in February 2006.
Sources: Europa Cinemas and the European Audiovisual Observatory's Lumière database.