With around 30 releases a year, the German market was the third most important for French films abroad, after the US and Russia, with 5.6 million tickets sold according to Unifrance. Asterix At The Olympic Games and Welcome To The Sticks were the two top French-language performers in Germany last year.
Over the past few years, certain French directors, such as Francois Ozon, Louis Leterrier and Cedric Klapisch, have acquired ‘brand’ status with German cinema-goers: six of Ozon’s films, including Under The Sand, 8 Women, Swimming Pool and Angel, sold more than 2 million tickets, while three films by Leterrier - Danny The Dog (aka Unleashed) and the first two Transporter films - attracted more than 1.2 million people.
Of all the foreign releases in Germany each year, approximately 50% are dramas, 20% are comedies, 10% are children’s films and 6% are documentaries. Comedy does not usually cross borders with a great deal of success but Welcome To The Sticks proved to be an exception when it opened in Germany at the end of October. It ran for more than four months and has grossed around $15.3m (EUR11.5m). Much of the success can be put down to distributor Prokino’s canny decision to cast Christoph Maria Herbst, the star of Germany’s version of TV show The Office, to dub the lead.
Festival favourites do not tend to impress German audiences. Mike Leigh’s Silver Bear winner Happy-Go-Lucky and Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell And The Butterfly were the only notable festival titles, just scraping into the top 100.
One of the most successful foreign films of 2008 was Togan Gokbakar’s Turkish romantic comedy Recep Ivedik, which tapped into Germany’s huge Turkish immigrant population. Released in March by Stuttgart-based Kinostar Filmproduktion just a month after its Turkish release, it took more than $2.6m (EUR2m).
Most of the prints were released in their original version although some were subtitled for younger audiences not familiar with the Istanbul dialect. Kinostar benefited from the fact many potential cinema-goers watch Turkish television and knew about the film’s blockbuster performance in Turkey.
Kinostar is now booking Turkish films into selected cinemas in Austria, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and the UK. Meanwhile, Recep Ivedik 2 is this year’s most successful foreign film to date in Germany, grossing $3.8m (EUR2.9m) after five weeks on release.
TOP 100, 2008
22% - Percentage of German films in the top 100, including co-productions
8% - Percentage of foreign (non-German, non-US) films in the top 100
|TOP 100, GERMANY, 2008|
|Title (Origin) Distributor||US$|
|1||Quantum Of Solace (US-UK) Spri||$41.7m|
|2||Rabbit Without Ears (Ger) Warner Bros||$39m|
|3||Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: (US) UPI||$36.1m|
|4||Mamma Mia! The Movie (US-UK) UPI||$34m|
|5||Hancock (US) Spri||$32.6m|
|6||Earth (UK-Ger-US) Universum||$29.4m|
|7||The Dark Knight (US) Warner Bros||$27.5m|
|8||Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of … (US) UPI||$25.6m|
|9||Wall-E (US) Walt Disney Smpi||$23.6m|
|10||Sex And The City (US) Warner Bros||$22.9m|
|11||The Baader Meinhof Complex (Ger) Constantin||$22.9m|
|12||Kung Fu Panda (US) UPI||$21.9m|
|13||I Am Legend (US) Warner Bros||$21.3m|
|14||Die Welle (Ger) Constantin||$20m|
|15||PS I Love You (US) Tobis||$18.2m|
|16||High School Musical 3: Senior Year (US) Walt Disney Smpi||$16.6m|
|17||National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (US) Walt Disney Smpi||$15.7m|
|18||You Don’t Mess With The Zohan (US) Spri||$14.9m|
|19||The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon … (US) UPI||$14.1m|
|20||Horton Hears A Who! (US) 20th Fox||$11.7m|
|21||Burn After Reading (US) Tobis||$11.7m|
|22||Krabat (Ger) 20th Fox||$11.2m|
|23||The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (US) Walt Disney Smpi||$11.2m|
|24||Die Wilden Kerle 5 (Ger) Walt Disney Smpi||$11m|
|25||Asterix At The Olympic Games (Fr-Ger-Sp) Constantin||$11m|
|26||Welcome To The Sticks (Fr) Prokino||$10.2m|
|27||What Happens In Vegas (US) 20th Fox||$9.9m|
|28||Kirschbluten-Hanami (Ger) Majestic||$9m|
|29||1 1/2 Knights: In Search Of The Ravishing … (Ger) Warner Bros||$8.8m|
|30||Wanted (US) UPI||$8.4m|
|31||Die Geschichte Vom Brandner Kaspar (Ger) Concorde||$7.8m|
|32||Juno (US) 20th Fox||$7.7m|
|33||The Bucket List (US) Warner Bros||$7.64m|
|34||Step Up 2 The Streets (US) Constantin||$7.6m|
|35||10,000 BC (US) Warner Bros||$7.4m|
|36||Iron Man (US) Concorde||$7.2m|
|37||Cheeky Girls (Ger) Constantin||$7.19m|
|38||Sommer (Ger) Walt Disney Smpi||$7.19m|
|39||The Day The Earth Stood Still (US) 20th Fox||$7.1m|
|40||Inkheart (US-Ger) Warner Bros||$7m|
|41||The Game Plan (US) Walt Disney Smpi||$6.6m|
|42||21 (US) Spri||$6.3m|
|43||Nights In Rodanthe (US-Aust) Warner||$6.3m|
|44||Saw IV (US) Kinowelt||$6.2m|
|45||27 Dresses (US) 20th Fox||$6.2m|
|46||Meet The Spartans (US) 20th Fox||$6.1m|
|47||Hellboy II: The Golden Army (US) UPI||$5.7m|
|48||Vantage Point (US) Spri||$5.5m|
|49||Alvin And The Chipmunks (US) 20th Fox||$5.5m|
|50||Rambo (US) Warner Bros||$5.4m|
|51||No Country For Old Men (US) UPI||$5.5m|
|52||Australia (Aus-US) 20th Fox||$5.4m|
|53||Jumper (US) Kinowelt||$5.2m|
|54||The Kite Runner (US) UPI||$5.1m|
|55||Die Rote Zora (Ger) UPI||$5m|
|56||Body Of Lies (US) Warner Bros||$4.9m|
|57||Get Smart (US) Warner Bros||$4.9m|
|58||Superhero Movie (US) Senator||$4.6m|
|59||Moonbeam Bear And His Friends (Ger) Universum||$4.4m|
|60||Enchanted (US) Walt Disney Smpi||$4.39m|
|61||Tropic Thunder (US) UPI||$4.1m|
|62||Bedtime Stories (US) Walt Disney Smpi||$4m|
|63||Sweeney Todd (US) Warner Bros||$3.9m|
|64||North Face (Ger) Majestic||$3.9m|
|65||The Happening (US) 20th Fox||$3.85m|
|66||Forgetting Sarah Marshall (US) UPI||$3.81m|
|67||Made Of Honor (US) Spri||$3.64m|
|68||Charlie Wilson’s War (US) UPI||$3.64m|
|69||Wolke 9 (Ger) Senator||$3.63m|
|70||Buddenbrooks (Ger) Warner Bros||$3.5m|
|71||Kleiner Dodo (Ger) Warner Bros||$3.5m|
|72||Nim’s Island (US) UPI||$3.48m|
|73||The Golden Compass (US) Warner Bros||$3.41m|
|74||Eagle Eye (US) UPI||$3.4m|
|75||Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Sp-US) Concorde||$3.3m|
|76||Babylon AD (US) Concorde||$3.1m|
|77||Michael Clayton (US) Constantin||$3.1m|
|78||The Spiderwick Chronicles (US) UPI||$2.9m|
|79||Max Payne (US) 20th Fox||$2.8m|
|80||The Accidental Husband (US) Walt Disney Smpi||$2.8m|
|81||The X Files: I Want To Believe (US) 20th Fox||$2.7m|
|82||Recep Ivedik (Tur) Kinostar||$2.69m|
|83||The Darjeeling Limited (US) 20th Fox||$2.64m|
|84||Urmel In Voller Fahrt (Ger) Constantin||$2.61m|
|85||Bee Movie (US) UPI||$2.6m|
|86||Cloverfield (US) UPI||$2.6m|
|87||Mirrors (US) Kinowelt||$2.5m|
|88||Street Kings (US) 20th Fox||$2.4m|
|89||Fool’s Gold (US) Warner||$2.3m|
|90||Happy-Go-Lucky (UK) Tobis||$2.2m|
|91||The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Fr-US) Prokino||$2.19m|
|92||In Bruges (UK-US) Tobis||$2.19m|
|93||Aliens Vs Predator 2 (US) 20th Fox||$2.17m|
|94||Paris (Fr) Prokino||$2.16m|
|95||Why Men Don’t Listen And Women … (Ger) Constantin||$2.16m|
|96||The Red Baron (Ger) Warner Bros||$2.15m|
|97||Into the Wild (US) Tobis||$2.08m|
|98||The Women (US) Constantin||$2.08m|
|99||Angus, Thongs And Perfect … (UK-US) UPI||$2.08m|
|100||The Incredible Hulk (US) Concorde||$2.05m|
GERMANY: KEY INDIE DISTRIBUTORS
Need to know: Part of Herbert Kloiber’s Tele-Munchen-Group whose activities range from theatrical distribution, home entertainment and cinema exhibition to production and merchandising. Concorde has started 2009 with a bang (or rather, a bite): its release of Twilight has taken more than $20m (EUR15m) in six weeks.
Who to know: Markus Zimmer, managing director.
Recent acquisitions: Chris Weitz’s The TwilightSaga: New Moon, Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, Neil Jordan’s Ondine, Terrence Malick’s Tree Of Life, Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep.
Where to find them: Berlin, Cannes, Locarno, Venice, Toronto, AFM.
Need to know: The leading German independent distributor, garnering an 8.3% slice of the German box office in 2008. Known for clever marketing campaigns for its in-house productions such as the comedies of Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig.
Who to know: Matthias Peipp, managing director, licensing.
Recent acquisitions: Antti Jokinen’s The Resident, Josh Gordon’s The Baster, Neil Marshall’s Centurion, Gela Babluani’s 13.
Where to find them: AFM, Berlinale/EFM, Cannes, as well as Miptv, Mipcom and Venice (occasionally).
Need to know: Stephan Hutter’s Munich-based operation has made a name for itself as a specialist in distributing crossover and commercial arthouse films. Its release of Welcome To The Sticks was the most successful non-German, non-US release of 2008 with more than $10m (EUR7.7m) takings. Prokino is the German distributor of Slumdog Millionaire, which opened on March 19.
Who to know: Ira von Gienanth, managing director, licensing and acquisitions, managing director production; Alexandra Huttenberger, acquisitions; Julius Windhorst, acquisitions.
Recent acquisitions: Stephen Frears’ Cheri, Daniele Thompson’s Change Of Plans and Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre.
Where to find them: Paris Screenings, Berlin, Cannes, Edinburgh, Luff, Locarno, Copenhagen Screenings, Venice, Toronto, Rome, AFM, Max Ophuls, Munich, Hamburg, Hof.
Need to know: For more than three decades, Tobis has been one of Germany’s most successful theatrical and home-entertainment distributors. There was a recent change of generations in the management as Kilian Rebentrost handed over the reins to daughter Anna. In 2008, the family-owned business enjoyed a market share of 4.2% from releases such as PS I Love You and Burn After Reading.
Who to know: Anna Rebentrost, managing director; Eva Hansen, acquisitions; Susanne Behnke, acquisitions.
Recent acquisitions: Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces, Jane Campion’s Bright Star, Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, Alejandro Amenabar’s Agora, Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man.
Where to find them: Berlinale/EFM, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Rome Business Street, AFM.
Need to know: The theatrical and home entertainment distribution subsidiary of the German broadcaster RTL Group, Universum has positioned itself as a mainstream player with 10-12 releases a year. These range from pick-ups of action films from the US such as Crank 2 and Game, through family entertainment (including the animation productions Moon Bear and Princess Lillifee), to nature documentaries such as Earth which was the sixth highest grossing film in Germany in 2008, taking more than $29m (EUR22m).
Who to know: Tania Reichert-Facilides, CEO and head of acquisitions; Benjamina Mirnik, head of feature film acquisitions and co-production; Walter Rehm, acquisitions; Rudy Tjio, acquisitions.
Recent acquisitions: Brian Levant’s The Spy Next Door, Spy Vs Stu, Gregor Jordan’s Unthinkable, Hideo Nakata’s Chatroom.
Where to find them: Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, AFM.
‘Downright cut-throat competition’
Online promotion is allowing distributors to tap into the fickle youth market more effectively than ever, say two of Germany’s top marketing experts. Interviews by Martin Blaney.
What has changed the most in film marketing in recent years?
Markus Zimmer, Concorde: The marketing mix has moved strongly in favour of online advertising. TV still remains the medium with the broadest impact, but advertisements and outdoor poster campaigns have lost significance.
Torsten Koch, Constantin: The range of films on offer and the marketing have significantly increased in recent years. There are also quite a lot of surplus films and new releases in the market, making it difficult to position a qualitatively good campaign. With approximately six to 10 new releases a week, it can result in downright cut-throat competition.
How has the internet transformed the way a film is marketed?
MZ: You have a greater ability to address a target group and minimise waste coverage.
TK: The ever-increasing importance of the social networking sites and the associated new possibilities in the area of online marketing are one of the greatest innovations for me. Online marketing has gained increasing importance for several years as the traditional media are being used less and less.
Are distributors spending more on marketing than a few years ago?
MZ: Campaigns for big mainstream films have grown in recent years. The TV budgets became bigger and the costs for online advertising have, in part, already overtaken the costs in the area of print if you want to run punchy campaigns.
TK: The important thing is the strategy that is planned for each film since the target groups and their behaviour keep on changing. How to address the target groups becomes more and more important. The marketing spends must also be more to the point and tailored in their planning.
Which recent marketing campaigns have impressed you?
MZ: Our own campaign for Twilight was a hit. Everything meshed - from the choice of the date for the first talent presentation in Germany to the diverse co-operation with trading partners and cinema owners.
How will films be marketed 10 years from now?
TK: Networking and communication habits will change more and at a faster rate than many believe possible at the moment.