Magazine article Variety

Gov't Funding Pays off at the Box Office

Magazine article Variety

Gov't Funding Pays off at the Box Office

Article excerpt

A bittersweet family comedy-drama about a father and his daughter has taken German cinema to new heights this year at home and abroad. Meanwhile, arthouse and mainstream hits, not to mention additional government funding, buoy the local industry.

Maren Ade's "Toni Erdmann" has taken the country by storm since it became the first German film to play in competition at Cannes in eight years. It was recently named as Germany's submission for the foreign-language film Oscar. The first feature from a female German director to screen in competition at Cannes, "Toni Erdmann" nabbed the Intl. Critics' Prize for best picture in competition.

The film is screening in Venice and Toronto after playing at a number of international festivals, including the Brussels Film Festival, where it took top prize, and Karlovy Vary, where Ted Hope, head of motion picture production at Amazon Studios, described it as one of the year's best pics.

Katja Nicodemus wrote in Die Zeit that Ade's "absurd, frivolous, slapstick, humanist comedy," perhaps in an unconscious manner, carries on a German comedy tradition that was ended by the Nazis, but was brought to Hollywood by filmmaking immigrants.

Hannah Pilarczyk adds in Spiegel Online that "Toni Erdmann" has launched "a new era for German cinema."

Produced by Ade's Berlin- based Komplizen Film, which she runs with Janine Jackowski and Jonas Dornbach, "Toni Erdmann" has enjoyed a strong box office performance domestically, raking in more than euro3.52 million ($4 million) since its July 14 launch. Christoph Ott, head of NFP Marketing & Distribution, which distributed the film in Germany, says, " 'Toni Erdmann' easily and clearly topped the arthouse charts, scoring the best per-screen average" on its opening weekend. "That's sensational and we are delighted with the success."

Other German titles making waves at the box office this year included more mainstream fare, such as Florian David Fitz's "Der geilste tag," in which the writer-director Fitz and Matthias Schweighoefer star as two terminally ill patients who head offon a road trip to South Africa. The Warner Bros. release pulled in more than $15.3 million. Likewise, "Bibi & Tina - Maedchen gegen jungs," the third installment in Detlev Buck's franchise based on the popular book series about a teen witch, has garnered more than $14 million, while Julia von Heinz's "I'm OffThen" - also a Warners release - took in $16.6 million. Pic is based on comedian Hape Kerkeling's book about his pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Germany also counted a couple of major international co-productions at the box office this year, both from Studio Babelsberg Disney's "Captain America: Civil War" made nearly $22 million in the country while "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2," which Studiocanal released late last year, went on to earn nearly $48 million.

While German box office revenue in the first half of 2016 dropped $70.2 million to $546.7 million compared to the same period a year ago, it was still the thirdbest half-year result since the German Federal Film Board (FFA) began collecting box office data.

FFA CEO Peter Dinges praised, in particular, the strong cultural contribution of German cinema this year, including the success of "Toni Erdmann" and Anne Zohra Berrached's acclaimed drama "24 Weeks," which screened in competition at Berlin.

Looking forward, Dinges said he was anticipating "some very interesting and significant films" in the second half of the year, including Fatih Akin's "Tschick," based on the bestselling novel. …

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