German cinemas generated more than €1bn ($1.37m) at the box office in 2013 for the second year running.

According to official figures published by the German Federal Film Board (FFA) in Berlin on Thursday morning, the German box office totalled €1.023bn ($1.4bn) in 2013.

FFA CEO Peter Dinges reported that total cinema admissions had fallen year-on-year by 4% from 135.1m to 129.7m year-on-year, while the box office takings had contracted by 1% from 2012’s €1.033bn ($1.41bn).

He explained that 2013 had not seen international blockbusters such as Harry Potter or Intouchables, which had each been seen by up to 9 million cinemagoers in 2012.

Consequently, he described the final figures for 2013 as “satisfactory, but not a good box office result”.

German upswing

German cinema saw an upward swing in Its fortunes with the market share jumping from 2012’s 18.1% to 26.2%, with 33.6m tickets sold for local releases.

This was largely thanks to the runaway success of Fack Ju Göthe (known internationally as Suck Me Shakespeer and sold by Picture Tree International), which had been seen by 5.6m cinemagoers by the end of 2013 and was the number one film in the German box office, calculated by admissions.

This week, the film’s producer Lena Schoemann told ScreenDaily that the film has now passed the 6.8m admissions mark.

Dinges added that another six German films had each posted more than 1m admissions during 2013, such as Kokowääh 2, The Physician, Frau Ella and Schlussmacher..

Moreover, 3D films are becoming increasingly important for the German exhibitors, as the FFA’s statistics showed: 31.3m tickets were sold for 3D releases - up from 2012’s 28.9m - with a market share of 24.4%, the highest figure since statistics began in 2010. 

Neumann to serve as FFA President

Durig the FFA press conference, Dinges introduced former State Minister for Culture and Media Bernd Neumann as the new FFA President and chairman of national film fund’s administrative council. He succeeds producer Eberhard Junkersdorf, who had held these positions since 1999, and was elected to a five year term in this function at the council’s constituent session on Wednesday.

Speaking at the press conference, Neumann said the strong presence of German cinema at this year’s Berlinale was “proof of the international competitiveness of German films”.

¨Thanks to the judgement of the Federal Constitutional Court, we now finally have clarity on the future of the FFA and have secured its further existence,¨ he continued.

He suggested that future areas for action would include the issues of copyright and intellectual property righs and the preservation of Germany’s film heritage as well as obliging ¨new contributors from the field of digital media¨ such as telecommunications concerns and VoD platforms to make payments to the FFA.

Neumann had served as State Minister for Culture and Media from 2005 to the end of 2013 and was instrumental in paving the way for the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) incentive programme which was launched in January 2007

Grütters: DFFF - ¨ an indispensable pillar of film financing¨

In her first public meeting with the German film industry during the Berlinale, the new State Minister for Culture and Media, Monika Grütters, committed herself to keeping the DFFF’s annual volume at  ¨ at least¨ € 70m and removing any time limit to the fund’s operations.

She pointed out that the DFFF has become ¨ an indispensable pillar of film financing¨, noting that nine of the Berlinale’s 23 Competition films had received a total of  €17.7m support from the incentive programme.

These included the opening film The Grand Budapest Hotel as well as Monuments Men, The Beauty and the Beast, and the four German titles Jack, Stations Of The Cross, Beloved Sisters and Inbetween Worlds.

¨This is impressive evidence of the potential of Germany as a film production hub,¨ Grütters said at the German Producers Alliance conference.

Turning to the new German Film Law (FFG), which runs until the end of 2016, she explained that future legislation should require that foreign VoD platforms operating in Germany make financial contributions via a levy to FFA.

¨The leading VOD platform in Germany is not based here, but has its headquarters in Luxembourg. Tax havens shouldn’t be allowed to exist and, similarly, there shouldn’t be any levy havens either,¨ Grütters argued.

Meanwhile, Günter Winands, a senior civil servant reporting to Grütters, expressed his frustration at the bureaucracy at the European Commission.

Letters sent to Commissioner Nellie Kroes about Germany’s plans to include the VoD platforms in the new FFG had gone unanswered over the past two years.

It was only at the last moment whil the new law was waiting to be officially notified by Brussels that a reaction finally came from the Commission saying that the clauses on VoD platform would have to be removed if the German Government want the Film Law to be greenlit for Jan 1 this year.