Despite Germany's hosting ofthe World Cup and sweltering temperatures from late May, German cinemas havereported marked increases in box-office takings and admissions for the firsthalf of 2006 over the same period last year, according to figures collated bythe German Federal Film Board (FFA).

The FFA reported that box-office takings had increased by 8.9% from 2005's $452.4m(Euros 352.6m) to $492.9m (Euros 384.1m), while admissions climbed from lastyear's low point of 60.3m to 65.1m for the first six months of 2006.

The figures for the firstthree months had been lower than for the same period in 2005, but this changeddramatically in April and May with a number of strong releases. Thanks, inparticular, to the US animation feature Ice Age 2, exhibitors anddistributors had their best April for the past 15 years, with admissions up astaggering 96.1% on the same month in 2005.

Altogether, there was a12.2% year-on-year increase in box-office takings to the end of May, but theWorld Cup and the heatwave in June saw business atthe cinemas drop 16.3% compared to June 2005 - consequently leading to theoverall single digit increases for the half-year.

Meanwhile, German films aregoing from strength to strength on the nation's screens: the 12.8m tickets soldand 19.9% domestic market share were the highest levels reached halfway throughthe year by local fare since 1997. Three local films were seen by more 1mcinema-goers each: The Wild Soccer Gang(2.1m), The Lives OfOthers (1.3m) and Wild Chicks(1.1m) - and other box-office successes included The Robber Hotzenplotz, Felix 2, Into GreatSilence, and The ElementaryParticles.

The German films' marketshare could even surpass 20% by the end of 2006 since a number of potentiallocal box-office hits will be released in the coming weeks, including Tom Tykwer's much anticipated Perfume - The Story Of A Murderer, the 7 Dwarfs sequel 7 Zwerge - Der WaldIst Nicht Genug, the animation feature Oh, Wie Schoen IstPanama, and the Til Schweigerdrama Wo Ist Fred'