2.4m fewer tickets were soldat German cinemas in the first three months of 2004 compared to the previousyear, according to statistics collated by the German Federal Film Board (FFA).

The Berlin-based institutionreported that box-office takings fell year-on-year by 9% to Euros 213.1m andadmissions by 6.2% to 37m, the lowest tally since the first quarter of 1999.

In the five Eastern Laender,the contraction in box office revenues and admissions was even more pronounced,with exhibitors reporting having sold 22.6% fewer tickets this year than 12months ago. Analysts suggested that this was largely due to the absence of sucha hit as Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye, Lenin! which had been particularlypopular with audiences in former East Germany.

While the number of Germanfilms released in the first quarter rose by 50% from 2003's 21 to 31 titles,the local films' market share slipped from 22% to 14.9% (8.6m to 5.4m tickets),with the most successful titles - the family film My Magical Friend Sams(Das Sams In Gefahr, 741,000 admissions in 2004) and Eric Till's historicaldrama Luther (623,000) - both being films that had already opened inautumn 2003.

While the third episode of TheLord Of The Rings attracted 3.8m cinema-goers between January and March, Something'sGotta Give, Scary Movie 3 and The Last Samurai were the only newreleases this year which managed to cross the 2m admissions threshold by March31.