German exhibitors' association Hauptverband Deutscher Filmtheater (HDF) last week boycotted an All Industry Meeting on joint marketing measures in response to critical comments made about it in an internal memo by the distributors' association Verband der Filmverleiher (VdF).

HDF - which represents more than half of the German exhibition sector, including the majority of small independent cinemas - was described, among other things, as being as clumsy "as a tanker".

The exhibitors' association was also missing at last week's meeting of the Zukunft Kino-Marketing initiative.

With one of the lowest per-capita cinema attendance levels in Europe (and the worst of the big five European markets), averaging just 1.86 visits a year, the German industry is attempting to pool resources to develop marketing and promotional strategies to boost the average to 2.5.

Despite these industry rifts, Germany enjoyed a record 19.7% boost in the local box office to new heights last year, with local films accounting for an 18.4% market share, the best on record.

Total box office sales for the country in 2001 were $858.5m, with Germany's 16.7% increase in attendance beating France's 11.4% and the UK's 9.5%.