Warner Bros. reigned supreme at the German box office in 2003 with a 20.4% market share, according to figures from EDI Nielsen.

Warner also had the year's top film, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, which was seen by 6.6m cinemagoers and took Euros 45.1m by Dec 31.

Although Warner managed to hold onto pole position, its market share was 5.8 percentage points down on its performance in 2002.

UIP improved its standing at No. 2 by 5.4 points to 19.1% thanks to such releases as Catch Me If You Can (Euros 22.1m) and Johnny English (Euros 19.2m). Columbia TriStar just missed out on the Top 10 films - with its most successful release Terminator 3 posting Euros 17.4m at No. 11 - and saw its market share slipping year-to-year by 2 points to 11.2%.

But there were more dramatic developments at Buena Vista and 20th Century Fox. Buena Vista's market share almost doubled from 2002's 9.5% to 18.9% thanks, in particular, to three blockbusters in the Top 10 - Finding Nemo (the year's No. 2 at 7.6m admissions), Pirates Of The Caribbean (5.8m) and Bruce Almighty (3.4m). Fox's slice of the cake shrunk by almost half from 18.2% to 9.3%, the most successful release being X-Men 2 at No. 16 with Euros 13.5 takings.

The huge success of Wolfgang Becker's tragicomedy Good Bye, Lenin! (6.4m admissions and Euros 37.9m box office) catapulted X Verleih to the top of the independents' list from the "also rans" to a 5.1% market share.

The usual king of the German independents, Constantin Film, though, had to make do with second place and less than half of its 2002 market share of 7.7%. In fact, only two Constantin releases made the Top 50 - The Flying Classroom (Euros 8.4m) and Werner - Gekotzt Wird Spaeter (Euros 5.5m) - but 2004 should see the company's distribution arm regaining ground with the release of sequels to Girls On Top, Resident Evil and Bibi Blocksberg as well as (T)Raumschiff Surprise - Episode 1, the new film by Manitou's Shoe director Michael "Bully" Herbig.

US cinema's domination of German screens was as strong as ever in 2003, but two German films - Good Bye, Lenin! and The Miracle Of Bern - managed to secure positions in the year's final Top Ten. Indeed, Becker's film was the most successful release in 2003 until the launch of Finding Nemo and The Return Of The King.

Overall, though, 2003 was not a good year for German cinemas: total admissions fell from 2002's 154.5m to 140.3m and turnover slipped to Euros 818.4m.

German Box Office 2003
1 The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (Warner), Euros 45.1m
2 Finding Nemo (Buena Vista), Euros 40.1m
3 Good Bye, Lenin! (X Verleih), Euros 37.9m
4 Pirates Of The Caribbean (Buena Vista), Euros 36.6m
5 Matrix Reloaded (Warner), Euros 30.1m
6 The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (Warner), Euros 28.5m
7 Catch Me If You Can (UIP), Euros 22.1m
8 Johnny English (UIP), Euros 19.2m
9 The Miracle Of Bern (Senator), Euros 18.6m
10 Bruce Almighty (Buena Vista), Euros 18.5m

Top German Films 2003
1 Good Bye, Lenin! (X Verleih), Euros 37.9m
2 The Miracle Of Bern (Senator), Euros 18.6m
3 Luther (NFP/UIP), Euros 13.5m
4 The Flying Classroom (Constantin), Euros 8.4m
5 Werner - Gekotzt Wird Spaeter! (Constantin), Euros 5.5m
6 Anatomie 2 (Columbia TriStar), Euros 4.3m
7 Die Wilden Kerle (Buena Vista), Euros 3.8m
8 Rosenstrasse (Concorde), Euros 3.6m
9 Herr Lehmann (Delphi), Euros 3.4m
10 Jester Till (Solo Film), Euros 3.2m

Market Shares (based on box office revenues)
1 Warner 20.4% (2002: 25.9%)
2 UIP 19.1% (13.7%)
3 Buena Vista 18.9% (9.5%)
4 Columbia TriStar 11.2% (13.2%)
5 20th Century Fox 9.3% (18.2%)
6 X Verleih 5.1% (-)
7 Constantin 3.8% (7.7%)
8 Concorde 2.7% (1.5%)
9 Senator 2.6% (2%)
10 Others 6.9% (3.9%)
Source: EDI Nielsen