People in Germany are drawn to the big screen more often again - but still less often than before the pandemic. “The cinemas are doing much better than expected,” said the board of directors of the Film Funding Agency (FFA), Peter Dinges.
The film theaters have recovered significantly after the corona pandemic. "Cinema is on everyone's lips again." Final figures for 2023 will not be published until next year. So far it is foreseeable that the ticket numbers will not yet be at the pre-Corona level of 2019, but will be below it, said Dinges.
In the first six months of this year, 45.2 million tickets were sold at the box office, as the FFA announced in its half-year balance sheet. In 2019 there were 53.7 million cinema tickets in the same period.
In a dpa interview in January 2021, Dinges expected that there would be a cinema boom after the end of the pandemic. Did that come true? “If you look closely, there is a cinema boom,” emphasized the film funding boss. "We haven't reached the previous numbers yet, but if we look at what the cinema has offered this year and how people have received the cinema, I think it's a good start for the future."
Older moviegoers are still hesitant
There were ticket numbers and sales that were higher than in 2019 in various months. People are coming back - but not as quickly as the industry had hoped. A closer look shows: Young people went to the cinema more again. Older people, on the other hand, would not yet come back as strongly as they did in 2019. There could be several reasons for this, said Dinges - such as higher prices and costs of living.
This year you also had to dig deeper into your pockets when it came to ticket prices. The average admission price was over ten euros for the first time, as Dinges noted. That was in the first half of 2023. "This price has to be put into perspective in the context, because it was due to films like "Avatar" and "Guardians of the Galaxy". For them there was a 3D and a long-length surcharge." This had a significant impact on the average price. This has now fallen again.
Cinema operators also felt higher energy costs and, in some cases, higher wage costs. According to Dinges, they would have to factor this into the admission price in some way in order to recoup the costs.
Recipe for success from “Barbenheimer”
Nevertheless, from his point of view, films this year were "unusual: unusually beautiful and unusually good." For example, the two blockbusters “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” which were released in theaters on the same day in July. The neologism “Barbenheimer” quickly made the rounds. According to Media Control, the lurid satire with Margot Robbie as a stereotypical Barbie was the most visited in 2023.
From Dinges' point of view, it's a phenomenon in summer - a time of year when people don't actually like to go to the cinema that much. "What was particularly special about these films was the way they addressed the audience. This was an address via social media, which actually made the films a cult even before they were released." In addition, both are crossover films, meaning they appeal to multiple target groups and are shown in multiplexes as well as in art house cinemas.
Crossover films in general would have worked this year. "This is modern cinema. This is how people want to be addressed. It worked, and worked very, very well. That seems to me to be a recipe for the future."
Some blockbusters won't be shown until 2025 because of Hollywood strikes
Speaking of the future: Looking ahead to next year, some blockbusters may have to be compromised. Screenwriters and actors in Hollywood had been on strike for months - this has also led to delays in the delivery of films and their programming for 2024 in this country. “We will of course feel this in terms of the number of visitors. But: postponed does not mean lifted,” said Dinges. Films like the new part of “Mission Impossible” and “Avatar” will be on screens in 2025.
Will the consequences of the strike mean that more German films will come to the fore? “German film and international film have actually always worked together,” explained Dinges. “If one is missing, the other has stepped forward.” This could already be seen during the pandemic, when many US blockbusters were not released and there was a “phenomenal” German market share.