Box-office takings and cinema admissions in Germany are up 30% year-on-year for the first quarter of 2008, according to figures collated by Nielsen EDI.

In the period from January 3 to March 23 2008, German cinemas have been experiencing an unexpected, but welcome revival in popularity after the disappointing results of last year.

They posted takings of $345.5m (Euros 218.7m) and admissions of 35.4m, a vast improvement on 2007's weak first three months which saw only 27.4m admissions and takings of $ 262.2m (Euros 166m).

The cinemas' performance so far this year is also more than 20% above the same period in 2005 and 2006 ($ 284.8m/Euros 180.3m and $ 286.9m/Euros 181.6m, respectively).

Moreover, there was only one weekend in these first three months where less than 2m tickets were sold; and seven releases have so far attracted more than 1m admissions each whereas there were only two managing the same in the same period last year.

The first quarter's top release is Til Schweiger's Rabbit Without Ears (Keinohrhasen) which was co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros and has generated takings of $ 46.3m (Euros 29.3m) from 4.38m admissions since the beginning of January.

Released on December 20, the romantic comedy starring Schweiger, Nora Tschirner and Matthias Schweighoefer, has a cumulative total of $ 58.8m (Euros 37.2m) and 5.7m admissions.

Rabbit Without Ears is followed in second place by the German-UK documentary Earth (Unsere Erde) which has become the most successful release in the history of distributor Universum Film with $ 26.4m (Euros 16.7m) box office and 2.7m admissions.

Earth is also now Germany's most successful nature documentary of all time, assuming this honour from the previous incumbent March Of The Penguins which had posted 1.46m admissions for Kinowelt in 2005/6. In addition, the German release has topped the film's performance in such territories as France and Japan.

At the same time, the top US film during this quarter - in third position - is the Will Smith sci-fi action film I Am Legend with $ 25.4m (Euros 16.1m) and 2.4m admissions.

Meanwhile, not surprisingly, Warner Bros. is the market leader for the first three months with a massive 30% share thanks to Keinohrhasen and I Am Legend as well as Roland Emmerich's 10,000 BC and The Bucket List, followed some way back by Walt Disney and Twentieth Century Fox.