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Major films funded for overseas cinema push

DDP/The Local · 28 Jun 2010, 15:33

Published: 28 Jun 2010 15:33 GMT+02:00

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German Films Service + Marketing, announced on Monday it was kicking the cash to screenings of leading German films in foreign cinemas.

Maren Ade’s film “Everyone else” will be promoted in Spain, Hannes Stöhr’s “Berlin Calling” in South America, Feo Aladag’s “When we leave” in Switzerland, Doris Dörrie’s “The Hairdresser” in the Netherlands and Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” – which won the coveted Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival – in Chile.

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In total, nearly half a million euros is being made available this year for the programme.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:14 June 28, 2010 by William Thirteen
i loved "the white ribbon" and while i am sure that most Chileans will benefit from seeing Haneke's tale of one doomed dorf, i certainly hope that these aren't tax dollars going to export these films. if so, they should arrange for free showings for all the hartz iv folk impacted by the budget 'consolidation'.
23:41 June 28, 2010 by Prufrock2010
A half-million euros to promote six films is not only chump change, it's money down the drain. Aggressive film marketing campaigns require many prints (all subtitled), massive print, television and multi-media advertising and exhibitor commitments to succeed. A half-million euros to promote even one of these films abroad would be woefully insufficient.

That said, successful film exports can be extremely lucrative and return revenues in the hundreds of millions (in Hollywood's case, billions). But that requires a serious investment in prints and advertising, and a half-million just won't cut it. You can't even make a decent trailer for a half-million euros these days.
03:55 June 29, 2010 by wood artist
I respectfully disagree with much of what Prufrock has to offer. German films can easily stand on their own, and a good marketing program need not cost millions. The trailers for the Harry Potter films, in multiple languages, cost nowhere near the "half-million euros" cited.

I am struggling to find an outlet for a DVD of The White Ribbon, and I'd love to have it, with or without subtitles. As examples, we need only look to Downfall or The Lives of Others to find German films that have done well, at least within the US. The Reader, while not a German production, is certainly another example of German culture that translates well to the screen and resonates with audiences in multiple countries.

Keep trying, folks. There are many of us who seek these out when they're made available.

10:11 June 29, 2010 by Prufrock2010
wood artist --

I was not disparaging the German films mentioned in the article. I have, however, written many produced films in my checkered career, five of them here in Germany. I know a little bit about film marketing and distribution, and the associated costs. Successful marketing, foreign and domestic, is expensive.

I agree that German film production is improving. There's a lot of talent here, although not a lot of production money available unless you happen to be Bernd Eichinger. (I also recommend The Baader-Meinhof Komplex.)

You can get a subtitled version of The White Ribbon through Amazon in a couple of days. If you're in the US and need an NTSC version, go to amazon.com. If you're in Europe and need a PAL version, go to amazon uk. One Amazon account works for both. Amazon UK has very good prices and delivery within about 3 days. Good luck.
10:12 June 30, 2010 by moistvelvet
The problem with the German film industry is their ignorance in not providing options of language, subtitles are simply not good enough. Now I like German cinema, espcially old classics like from the New German cinema era with Fassbinder's BRD trilogy. But less for a few successes, very few German films are created with the world market in mind, for them to compete with Hollywood they'll have to do more than just throw in a few hundred thousand euros, they'll have to change the perception of German cinema abroad.

But of course the main problem is the distribution and chain of cinemas owned by Hollywood producers, who can dictate which films are played and for how long. As has happened in the past, great films could be limited to small independant cinemas whilst the major Hollywood bores rain supreme with their financial clout and overexposure... Avatar uhum!
12:31 June 30, 2010 by Prufrock2010
moistvelvet --

I must respectfully disagree on a couple of points. Hollywood producers do not own chains of cinemas. That was outlawed in the fifties under the Taft-Hartley antitrust law. However, major Hollywood production companies and studios have sweetheart deals with exhibitors that takes the form of a kind of greymail; that is, if you want my next blockbuster film you're going to have to exhibit my whole slate of movies. The exhibitors don't make money from the box office. They make it from popcorn and candy sales. Thus they have to show films that attract large audiences, and attracting large audiences is the result of advertising and promotion. Thus even the worst Hollywood crap is going to bring more people into a cinema than the best low budget German or French productions, which are routinely relegated to the tiny "art houses" that seat 60 people.

For a film to break even, the rule of thumb is that it must earn 3 times its negative cost. Thus if a film costs $30 million to produce (low by Hollywood standards), it must make $90 million before it shows a penny of profit. These days, Hollywood films are earning more in DVD sales and rental than in cinema box office receipts.

The biggest problem with the German film industry, in my view, is that there is very little private capital invested in productions. Traditionally, German films have been developed and produced largely with government grants and subsidies, thus are burdened by the constraints of small budgets and are intended for festivals and art houses instead of an international audience. It is possible to make a superb film for under 2 million euros, as demonstrated by the great Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic, but to obtain worldwide distribution for these movies is next to impossible because of the prohibitive costs of prints and advertising. The biggest market for film is the US, and Americans don't like subtitled films.

I was in LA when "The Lives of Others" won an Academy Award. It was shown in very limited distribution in 2 Los Angeles "art house" cinemas and without subtitles, and it wasn't available on DVD with subtitles until six months later. That is a disgrace.

Finally, the German film industry is notoriously parochial, demanding only German content that fails to translate well to a universal audience. There are a few exceptions, of course, but until that mindset changes German films will remain relegated to film festivals and art houses, guaranteeing that productions will remain underfunded. They call it "show business." No business, no show. That's just a fact of the economics of the business. No investors are going to pour money into a production that is guaranteed not to make a profit.
00:33 August 8, 2010 by moviechick1010
It doesn't matter the size of the film, whether it's an "independent" production like 'Slumdog Millionaire' or 'Precious' or a studio-financed film like 'Inception' if you want a theatrical release of any kind in North America at least it'll run you $13,000 per theatre by current MPAA estimate. That P & A Funding figures includes TV advertising, which is a route that may not be needed on an initial Limited Release run but if you plan to go beyond 20 theatre/cities you will need TV.

I bring up the films 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'Precious' because their budgets were small but they both eventually had wide releases and the ROI was astounding whether for the producer, the studio and any third-party P & A fund (if there was one) that was behind it.
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