For the second consecutive year box office in German cinemas came to over one billion euros in 2013. Certainly a fine result that should not, however, overshadow the problematic aspects of the offer and consumption of cinema-going on the market with the highest population in Western Europe. Andreas Kramer, Chairman of HDF, highlighted these aspects at the very beginning of the course: between 2008 and 2013, 200 screens were lost (down to 4,610 units from 4,810) and 111 centres have been left without a cinema (the number of localities with at least one theatre has dropped from 1,001 to 890).
Today, 11 July, Maria Gomez, representing MFG, the cinema fund of Baden Württemberg, the extreme south-western Land in Germany, where 14.3% of cinemas are to be found and 13.7% of the country's screens, returned to this theme.
With the intention of keeping the offer of cinema alive over the territory as a whole, in 2010 MFG approved a support scheme for digitalization, addressing commercial cinemas with up to six screens. Backed by financing of 3.3 million euros, in the space of four years this has made the conversion of 204 screens possible. Of particular interest are the minimum requirements for eligibility: at least 8,000 spectators or a box-office of 25,000 euros (excluding VAT), making the support available even to small cinemas situated in outlying or rural districts.
This measure joined provisions already available for facilitating the modernization of existing cinemas (loans of up to 50,000 euros) and the yearly awards to arthouse cinemas on the basis of the quality of their programming.
It was no coincidence that Maria Gomez's talk took place at the Scala Filmpalast, a three-screen complex devoted to quality films right at the centre of Constance. Detlef Rabe, a prominent figure in the German cinema industry and exhibitor of the Scala, described the special role of Constance's offer of cinema. It addresses the approximately 80,000 inhabitants of this historical town, joined by 15,000 university students and - in summertime - by thousands more holidaymakers, including those from the Swiss German centres just over the border.
The ticket price is decidedly reasonable - both for films and for added content - and the availability of original-language versions with subtitles, but also of versions dubbed in German, attract Swiss spectators to Constance's cinemas, which range from a multi-screen complex such as il Lago, managed - like the Scala - by Detlef Rabe, to the non-profit Zebra Kino.
Tourists in love with Lake Constance also constitute the summer clientèle of the Cine Greth, situated on the north bank of the lake in Ueberlingen. A cinema that is perhaps unique in the world, combining as it does avant-garde digital technology and architecture dating back to the XIVth century. The building housing the Greth and its fascinating bar - directly beneath its century-old rafters - was in fact a grain warehouse, renovated in the Seventeen Hundreds and recently restored to its ancient splendour. Here Thomas and Nicole Lailach have placed their bets on the possibility of adding the two screens of the Kammer-Tivoli - managed by the previous generation of Lailachs - to their existing offer, another three screens, focusing on the attraction of the historical building and on their close attention to the various types of spectators. And it really does seem that they have won their bet.
For further information on the Cine Greth, see DGT online informer no. 104
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