Germandistributors trade association Verband der Filmverleiher (VdF) is forecastingan increase of between 5-10% for admissions and gross box office in Germancinemas for 2006.

Accordingto the VdF, the weekend figures (Thursday to Sunday) up to December 10 saw a10% increase over 2005, with admissions topping 85.3m and gross box officereaching $706m (Euros 540m) - over $64m (Euros 49m) more than in 2005 atthis stage, with three more weekends to go before the end of the year.

In2005, Germany was one of the countries hardest hit by falling tickets sales,with admissions sinking by 18% - from 156.7m to 127.3m - bringing attendanceback to the level of 1995.

Grossbox office had fared only slightly better with a drop of 16.6% from $1.1bn (Euros892.9m) to $974m (Euros 745m).

Infact, Nielsen EDI's statistics for the period of January 2 to December 10, 2006[full weeks, Thursday - Wednesday] report total gross box office of $967.7m (Euros740.1m) and admissions of 123.06m.

"Lastyear, we said that the cinema business is cyclical and that, unlike otherindustries, we don't have a trend which only goes upward or downward," VdFmanaging director Johannes Klingsporn explained to Screen Daily.

"Thebusiness is strongly influenced by the films and this year we had very positiveresults with Ice Age 2 posting 9m admissions, Piratesof the Caribbean 2 with over 7m, and The DaVinci Code possibly passing the 6m mark.

TheGerman films also did very well with three of them selling more than 3mtickets: Perfume; the football documentary Deutschland.Ein Sommermaerchen; and the 7 Dwarfs sequel The Wood Is Not Big Enough.

Whatwas really pleasing was the fact that not only the multiplexes did goodbusiness, but the arthouse sphere also had success with such films as TheLives Of Others, Grave Decisions, Summer In Berlin, Brokeback Mountain, Volver and Match Point."

Lookingahead to the coming year, Klingsporn confidently predicted that "2007 willbe a wonderful year."

"Taking German cinema, for instance, there area number of films which cause a sensation, starting in January with Dani Levy'sMein Fuehrer, and followed by the next instalment in the Wild Soccer Bunchfranchise, Bully Herbig's 3-D animation feature Lissi Und Der Wilde Kaiser,Neues Vom Wixxer and new films from Hans Weingartner," he suggested.

"On an international level, the new Harry Potter film, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 and SpiderMan 3 are just a handful of the titles which will ensurethat 2007 is a happy year for both the distributors and exhibitors."