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Cinemas have recovered significantly after the pandemic

Many people are being drawn back to the big screen after coronavirus. Head of Film Funding Peter Dinges explains what "Barbenheimer" has to do with this and why the figures will probably still be below 2019.

More people went to the movies again this year. However, the pre-corona level of 2019 has not
More people went to the movies again this year. However, the pre-corona level of 2019 has not yet been reached.

Movie - Cinemas have recovered significantly after the pandemic

People in Germany are being drawn to the big screen more often again - but still less often than before the pandemic. "Cinemas are doing much better than expected," said Peter Dinges, CEO of the German Federal Film Board (FFA).

Movie theaters had recovered significantly after the coronavirus pandemic. "Cinema is back on everyone's lips." Final figures for 2023 will not be published until next year. So far, it is foreseeable that 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 reported by the FFA in its half-year report. In 2019, 53.7 million cinema tickets were sold in the same period.

In a dpa interview in January 2021, Dinges predicted that we would experience a cinema boom after the end of the pandemic. Has that turned out to be true? "If you look closely, there is a cinema boom," emphasized the head of film funding. "We haven't yet reached the previous figures, but if we look at what the cinema has offered this year and how people have accepted 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 are going to the movies again. Older people, on the other hand, are not yet coming back as strongly as they did in 2019. There could be several reasons for this, said Dinges - such as higher prices and the cost of living.

People also had to dig deeper into their pockets for some of the ticket prices this year. The average ticket price exceeded ten euros for the first time, Dinges noted. "You have to put this price into context, because it was due to films such as Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy. There was a 3D and extra-length surcharge for them." This had a strong influence on the average price. This has since fallen again.

Cinema operators also felt the effects of higher energy costs and, in some cases, higher labor costs. According to Dinges, they have to factor this into the admission price in some way in order to recoup the costs.

"Barbenheimer's" recipe for success

Nevertheless, he believes that this year's films were "unusual: unusually beautiful and unusually good." For example, the two blockbusters "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer", which were released in cinemas on the same day in July. The term "Barbenheimer" quickly made the rounds. According to Media Control, the garish satire starring Margot Robbie as the stereotypical Barbie was the most popular movie in 2023.

From Dinges' point of view, this is a phenomenon in summer - a time of year when people don't actually like going to the movies that much. "What was special about these films was the way they appealed to the audience. This was an approach via social media that actually turned the films into a cult even before they were released." In addition, both are crossover films, i.e. they appeal to several target groups and are shown in multiplexes as well as arthouse cinemas.

Crossover films in general have worked this year. "This is modern cinema. That's how people want to be addressed. It worked, and it worked very, very well. That seems to me to be a recipe for the future."

Some blockbusters won't be released until 2025 due to Hollywood strikes

Speaking of the future: with a view to next year, some blockbusters may have to be cut back a little. Screenwriters and actors in Hollywood have been on strike for months - which has also led to delays in the delivery of films and their programming for 2024 in this country. "Of course, we will feel this in terms of attendance figures. But: postponed is not canceled," said Dinges. Films such as the new part of "Mission Impossible" and "Avatar" will then hit the screens in 2025.

Will the consequences of the strike possibly mean that more German films will take center stage? "German films and international films have actually always worked together," explained Dinges. "If one is lacking, 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.

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