Cinema admissions and box office takings continued their downward trend into the third quarter of 2003, according to figures published by the German Federal Film Board (FFA).

While the second quarter had seen a 11.7% drop in admissions over the same period in 2002, this grew to 12.1% in the third quarter. Box office revenues fared no better: the second quarter had seen a year-on-year reduction of 13% and this increased slightly to 13.3% between July and September.

The FFA reported that 102m tickets were sold in the first nine months of 2003, 14.1m less than for the same period in 2002 when 116.1m tickets had been sold, while the box office revenues slid by 13.3% from last year's Euros 673.6m to Euros 584.1m .

According to FFA's board member Rolf Baehr, the fall in admissions had been influenced by "the relatively weak line-up of films, particularly from the USA, the record-breaking summer [at the height of the heatwave in July, admissions had been down over 33% compared to 2002], the general economic recession and the increase in film piracy through illegal downloads and burning of CDs."

However, a silver lining to the otherwise bleak picture was the success of local German films so far this year with a total of 14.4m admissions posted for the 60 releases of domestic productions. Thanks to the performance of such films as Good Bye, Lenin! (6.3m), The Flying Classroom (1.8m), Werner - Gekotzt Wird Spaeter (1m), and Anatomie 2 (0.7m), the local films' market share had grown from 11.8% in the first nine months of 2002 to 14.5%.

This share is likely to increase further with the success of Soenke Wortmann's The Miracle Of Bern, which has already passed the 2m admissions hurdle and is aiming for at least 3m, and Eric Till's Luther which could be reach 1.5m. Indeed, the FFA pointed out that "right at the beginning of the fourth quarter, five German productions were among the Top 10 of the film charts for two weeks in a row. At the end of October and beginning of November there were nine German films in the Top 20."