Handelsblatt Exclusive Cinema's Growing Economic Clout

Just in time for the Berlin International Film Festival, a new study commissioned by the economics ministry stresses the growing importance of the German film industry, Handelsblatt has learned.
A scene from international smash hit "Toni Erdmann."

With Berlin gearing up for the start of its annual film festival next week, the Berlinale, it’s perfect timing for the presentation of a new study on the importance of the film industry in Germany.

The deputy economics minister, Uwe Beckmeyer, is to host a reception for the crème de la crème of the German film industry later on Thursday. The star-studded lineup is impressive with confirmed attendees including actors Alexandra Maria Lara, Karoline Herfurth and Matthias Schweighöfer.

Handelsblatt has obtained an exclusive advance copy of the study, which will be presented by department head Stefan Schnorr. The research, prepared by consulting and market research company Goldmedia in collaboration with consultancy DIW Econ and the Hamburg Media School, delivers encouraging figures.

The film industry is an important economic factor in Germany Brigitte Zypries, Economics Minister

According to the study, the industry earned €24.5 billion ($26.4 billion) and employed 160,000 people in 2014. The authors estimate the entire film industry's contribution to economic output in Germany at about €13.6 billion. As a comparison, according to the Federal Statistical Office the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry contributed about €15 billion to gross value added in 2015.

"The film industry is an important economic factor in Germany," Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries told Handelsblatt. The number of German movie productions has doubled in the last 10 years, according to the study. Germany is generally in good shape as a center for film production. In 2015 there were more than 230 productions and co-productions with German involvement.

More than 1,000 companies and experts were interviewed for the study. For 2017, most anticipate constant revenue and employment numbers and rising costs. That's because the film industry, like other industries, is heavily affected by digitalization. Some 62 percent of the companies polled indicated that they planned to make large investments in digital technology in the next five years. Ms. Zypries believes that the film industry is adequately equipped. "The study makes it clear that the German film industry is well-prepared for digitalization," said Ms. Zypries.

Critics, like the German Taxpayer's Alliance, repeatedly find fault with the government for its subsidization of the German film industry. Federal and state governments spent €311 million on the film industry in 2015. About a year ago, the economics ministry launched its own funding program worth €10 million a year.

However, this investment is paying off. The smash hit “Toni Erdmann” has been nominated for the best foreign picture at this year’s Academy Awards and even better, it stands a very strong chance of winning the Oscar.


Dana Heide covers politics from Berlin. To contact her: [email protected]