German box office and admissions plunged by 11% in thefirst three months of 2005 compared to the same period last year.

German cinemas took Euros 181.5m in box office, while thenumber of cinema-goers slipped from 34.8m to 31.1m in the first quarter.

The sobering statistics have dispelled any optimism feltby German exhibitors about last year's upswing in cinemas' fortunes.

The generally negative economic situation in Germany,consumer spending reticence and the lack of any major event films betweenJanuary and March have been cited as factors contributing to the decline,according to industry observers.

In addition, some noted that there had not been any bigChristmas release like the Lord Of The Rings franchise of the previousthree years which had continued to generate revenues and admissions into thenew year.

Nielsen EDI's figures show that UIP led the field ofdistributors with a market share of 23.3% thanks to such successful releasessuch as Meet The Fockers, the German family animation film Felix -Ein Hase Auf Weltreise and the music biopic Ray, followed by WarnerBros. (17.8%), Sony Pictures (15.6%) and Buena Vista (12.5%).

As usual, Constantin Film Verleih was the leading Germanindependent with a first quarter market share of 8.6%. It was followed by XVerleih (4.7%), Universum (2.8%) and Kinowelt (2.1.%).

Last year, the German theatrical market recovered from apoor 12 months in 2003, with box-office revenues climbing from Euros 818.4m toEuros 879.1m and admissions increasing by 7% to 151m. The rise was partlyexplained by a number of successful local productions released later in theyear, including Dreamship Surprise - Period 1 and Downfall.