Additional revenues generated by 3D releases in 2010 cushioned the negative effects of a year-on-year decline in film-going in Germany.

According to provisional figures collated by Rentrak Germany for the period of December 31 2009 to December 12 2010, box-office revenue slipped by only 4% from 2009’s Euros 882.2m to Euros 847.1m this year.

This compared with a drop of 16.9% in admissions year-on-year from more than 137m tickets sold for the same period in 2009 to 114.3m this year.

The World Cup in South Africa was cited as one of the reasons for the fall in cinema attendances in Germany, although some industry commentators suggested that the lack of strong titles was also behind the contraction in admissions.

“More and more screens are being converted to 3D which has pushed the turnover forward,” Andreas Kramer, deputy board chairman on the exhibitors’ trade association HDF Kino, said. “With the admission figures we note that, independently of the World Cup, they have levelled off relatively constantly between 125m and 140m for the past five years. We will probably also be within this parameter by the end of this year. The [box office] turnover has however climbed substantially in 2009 and 2010 due to 3D.”

As Jan Oesterlin of the film industry promotion body Zukunft Kino Marketing (ZKM) pointed out, it has been mainly 2D and 3D Hollywood blockbusters which were the big earners at the German box office this year.

James Cameron’s Avatar continues to be the top audience draw this year, having posted more than Euros 114m box office and attracted more than 11.2m German cinema-goers. This was followed by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, which generated more than Euros 35.8m and 4.5m admissions in just four weeks on release, followed by Alice InWonderland (Euros 28.3m / 2.9m admissions) and Inception (Euros 26.5m / 3.4m admissions).

Markus Goller’s buddy movie Friendship! (pictured), released theatrically through Sony Pictures last January, is the most successful German film released in 2010 based on more than 1.5m tickets sold and Euros 10.36m box office, while Constantin Film’s 3D German co-production Resident Evil: Afterlife took Euros 11.6m box office from 1.1m admissions.

While the performance of German films in 2010 didn’t match the market share of 2009, Johannes Klingsporn, managing director of the distributors’ association Verband der Filmverleiher (VdF) is confident that next year will see a revival in local cinema with such releases as Wim Wenders’ 3D dance documentary Pina, Til Schweiger’s new romantic comedy Kokowaah and actor Matthias Schweighoefer’s directorial debut What A Man, as well as sequels of successful franchises ranging from Men In The City (MannerherzenUnd Die Ganz, Ganz Grosse Liebe) through Rabbit Without Ears 3 (Keinohrhasen 3) to The Crocodiles 3 (Vorstadtkrokodile 3) and Wickie Auf Grosser Fahrt (now in 3D).

“It particularly pleases me that more and more artists are so enamoured with cinema that they are not only appearing in front of the camera, but are also producing and directing,” Klingsporn explained. “This shows how artistically and economically attractive German films have become. Very successful productions even become a brand and you only have to think here of the Rabbit Without Ears films.”

Looking ahead to 2011 and other releases in the coming months – such as The Green Hornet, the second part of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows in 3D, a new outing for Pirates Of The Caribbean (also in 3D), Hangover 2, and another Twilight film, Breaking Dawn – Klingsporn suggested that it was “highly realistic” to believe that the German box office turnover would break the Euro 1bn threshold next year.