Czech cinema enjoyed domestic and international successes of both feature films and documentaries in 2018, with the Czech Film Fund effectively supporting the development and production of numerous quality films (including a strikingly high number of debut features), a growing number of coproductions, returning international film crews shooting on Czech locations and exceptional box office results.
Film production in the Czech Republic in 2018 was marked by a growing interest of domestic producers in international coproductions including minority coproductions, which enjoyed a significant support from the Czech Film Fund. The range of coproducing countries is getting wider than before, including – next to traditional partner countries - also new partners from the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, France or the USA.
As far as the topics and genres are concerned, period films seemed to prevail in 2018, both from older and more recent Czech history. Numerous domestic comedies are still being made - traditionally a very successful genre in Czech cinemas, as well as films for children, including long animated films. Together with experienced and renowned directors shooting new films, a strikingly high number of debut features was produced in 2018.
Among the most important and at the same time most expensive titles shooting in 2018 there were: the epic period film Medieval / Jan Žižka by Petr Jákl, a US/Czech/UK coproduction produced by WOG FILM, the war dramaThe Painted Bird / Nabarvené ptáče, directed by Václav Marhoul and produced by Silvescreen, (a coproduction between the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, Slovakia) and The Glass Room / Skleněný pokoj by Julius Ševčík produced by IN Film Praha.
Other titles which were shot in 2018 and which deal with important political topics were The Prague Orgy / Pražské orgie by Irena Pavlásková produced by Prague Movie Company, the Czech/German coproduction National Street / Národní třída directed by Štěpán Altrichter and produced by Negativ, and On the Roof / Na střeše directed by Jiří Mádl and produced by Dawson Productions.
Important coproductions shot in 2018 are the children film My Grandpa Is an Alien by Drazen Zarkovic and Marina Andree Škop, a coproduction between Croatia, Luxembourg, Norway, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, produced by Studio Dim, and the Danish/Czech coproduction In Love and War / I Krig & Kærlighed, directed by Kasper Torsting and produced by Fridthjof Film and Film United.
Agnieszka Holland’s new feature film Charlatan / Šarlatán, produced by Marlene Film Production, started shooting for one week in 2018 with the main shooting set for 2019.
There were numerous big and small foreign productions shooting in the Czech Republic in 2018, including the big budget TV series Wiskey Cavalier and the second season of Knightfall, most of them supported by the film incentives programme.
A total of 70 new domestic features and documentaries were theatrically released during 2018. Numerous important feature films were inspired by events and personalities from the Czech history and literature: the Czech/Slovak drama Jan Palach directed by Robert Sedláček, produced by Cineart TV Prague and distributed by CinemArt (which was nominated for six Czech Critics’ Awards), Toman by Ondřej Trojan, produced by Total HelpArt T.H.A.. (which was released by Falcon in October 2018), the long awaited fairy tale The Magic Quill / Čertí brko directed by Marek Najbrt, produced by Punk Film and distributed by Falcon, and the adaptation of the acclaimed novel Hastrman directed by Ondřej Havelka, produced by První veřejnoprávní, and distributed by CinemArt.
The list of comedies successfully distributed in Czech cinemas in 2018 includes What Men Long For / Po čem muži touží directed by Rudolf Havlík, produced by Fénix Film in coproduction with Flamesite and distributed by CinemArt, Patrimony / Tátova Volha directed by Jiří Vejdělek, produced by Infinity Prague and distributed by CinemArt, and Desperate Ladies Act Desperately / Zoufalé ženy dělají zoufalé věcí directed by Filip Renč, produced by Mojo Film and distributed by Bioscop.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
The year 2018 was very good for Czech cinemas. The results surpassed even the box office record year 2016. The total admissions reached 16,344, 483, the total box office was 88,595,963 EUR / 2, 268, 942, 623 CZK, compared to 15,233,432 admissions and total box office of 78,814,200 EUR / 2,004,245,131 CZK in 2017.
The average ticket price in 2018 was 5.42 EUR / 138.82 CZK.
There are eight distribution companies in the Czech Republic with a market share of over 1%.
In 2018, CinemArt, the distributor of some major US studios’ productions and also high-profile Czech films, had 40.8% market share and replaced the top distributor of 2017, Falcon, which had 28.1% market share. Vertical Entertainment (Freeman) ranked third with 12.7%, followed by Bontonfilm with 6.2% market share.
The most attended film in Czech cinemas was Bohemian Rhapsody (distributed by CinemArt) with 1,073,638 admissions and 6,466,605 EUR / 165,609,745 CZK gross.
The most attended Czech film in 2018 was the comedy What Men Long For / Po čem muži touží, with 558,988 admissions and 3,226,102 EUR / 82, 620,472 CZK.
In 2018 the market share of multiplexes, counting 256 screens and 44,464 seats, reached 65.88% (attendance). The largest multiplex cinema operators are Cinema City and Cine Star.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
The main tool for public support of Czech cinema is the Czech Film Fund. The funding is granted in 10 areas: development, production, distribution, promotion, technological development, publications, education and training, festivals and events, protection, preservation and access to film heritage. The Fund, through its division Czech Film Center, represents and promotes Czech cinema and film industry and increases the awareness of Czech film worldwide. It also supports through its division Czech Film Commission the activities of film offices in the Czech Republic, helping Czech and foreign filmmakers to shoot in various regions of the country.
In 2018, the Czech Film Fund issued a total of 30 calls for domestic grants with a total funding of 14.098,809 EUR / 361 m CZK, of which 11,169,693 EUR / 286 m CZK was earmarked for Czech film development and production of all film genres, including minority coproductions.
Among important feature films supported in 2018 there are: Havel directed by Slávek Horák and produced by TVORBA Films, with 560,603 EUR / 14.5 m CZK, Zátopek directed by David Ondříček and produced by Lucky Men Films, with 579,039 EUR / 15 m CZK, Bourák directed by Ondřej Trojan and produced by Total Help Art T.H.A., with 386,026 EUR / 10 m CZK, Snake Gas / Hadí plyn directed by David Jařab and produced by Cineart TV Prague, with 386,026 EUR / 10 m CZK, Princip Kriegel aneb Muž, který stál v cestě directed by Ivan Fíla and produced by Bio Illusion, with 386,026 EUR / 10 m CZK, Krajina ve stínu directed by Bohdam Sláma and produced by Luminar Film, with 425,285 EUR / 11 m CZK, Admin directed by Olmo Omerzu and produced by endorfilm, with 425,285 EUR / 11 m CZK, Chyby directed by Jan Prušinovský and produced by Offsidemen, with 270,270 EUR / 7 m CZK, and the children and youth film A City Boy and the Forest Secret / Mazel a tajemství lesa directed by Petr Okropec and produced by BFilms, with 289,575 EUR / 7.5 m CZK.
The Czech Film Fund also administrates film incentives for film and TV productions shooting in the Czech Republic. The incentives are granted in the form of a 20% cash rebate on Czech production costs and 66% on the withholding tax on non-resident labour costs paid in the Czech Republic. The incentives are available for feature films, TV and animation series, animated and documentary films. Maximum eligible costs are set at 80% of the total budget. The Czech Film Fund is currently trying to increase the rebate to 25%.
More than 38.9 m EUR / 1 billion CZK were allocated to the incentive programme in 2018.
For eligibility criteria and application process, check the Czech Film Commission’s website.
The amendment to the audiovisual law approved in May 2016 came into effect on 1 January 2017. An improved incentives scheme was introduced, which makes the system more flexible for film productions.
The rebates allotted in 2018 include the action series Whiskey Cavalier (8,748, 291 EUR / 224 m CZK) directed by Peter Atencio, produced by Doozer and Warner Bros. Television and serviced by Stillking Films, with almost 100 shooting days in the Czech Republic; the second season of the historical series Knightfall (5,702,011 EUR / 146 m CZK) directed by Rick Jacobson, produced by A+E Studios, Midnight Radio and The Combine with Stillking Films servicing (90 shooting days); the US/German coproduction Jojo Rabbit (1,390,353 EUR / 35.6 m CZK) directed by Taika Waititi, produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures and serviced by Czech Anglo Productions (40 shooting days); the French biopic Edmond (812,341 EUR / 20.8 m CZK) directed by Alexis Michalik, produced by Légende Films, Ezra, Gaumont (FR), Nexus (BG), Sirena Film, which also serviced in the Czech Republic (41 shooting days); Norwegian Amundsen (523,335 EUR / 13.4 m CZK) directed by Espen Sandberg, produced by Motion Blur (NO), SF Studios (SE) and serviced by Film Kolektiv (22 days), Amazon Studios’ horror series Lore (1,093, 536 EUR / 28 m CZK) by Darnell Martin, Thomas J. Wright, Michael E. Satrazemis and produced by Amazon Studios, Propagate Content, Valhalla Entertainment, serviced by Milk & Honey Pictures.
Also benefiting of the rebates in 2018 were: the German mini-series The Wall (1,132,591 EUR / 29 m CZK) directed by Michael Krumennacher and produced by Gabriela Sperl Produktion, Wiedemann & Berg Television, ZDF Enterprises, with Wilma Film coproducing and servicing; the BBC series World on Fire (2,069, 908 EUR / 53 m CZK); three German TV films for the Der Zurich-Krimi series (488,186 EUR / 12.5 m); the German/Austrian feature film Narziss und Goldmund (585,823 EUR / 15 m CZK) directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, produced by Tempest Film Produktion Und Verleih, Mythos Film Produktions, Lotus-Film and serviced by Mia Film; the US/UK TV mini-series The Little Drummer Girl (410,076 EUR / 10.5 m CZK) directed by Park Chan-wook, produced by AMC Networks, BBC, Endeavor Content, The Ink Factory and serviced by Sirena Film.
Rebates were also given to large scale Czech coproductions such as Agnieszka Holland’s feature film Charlatan / Šarlatán produced by Marlene Film Production - 429,603 EUR / 11 m CZK, and Glass Room / Skleněný pokoj by Julius Ševčík, produced by InFilm - 468,658 EUR / 12 m CZK.
The main TV companies in the Czech Republic are NOVA group, the Czech Television and PRIMA group.
The Czech Television currently runs six channels: CT1, CT2, CT24, CT sport, CT:D and CT Art.
NOVA group channels include NOVA, NOVA 2, NOVA Cinema, NOVA Action, NOVA Gold, NOVA Sport and NOVA Sport 2.
Prima group consists of Prima Family, Prima COOL, Prima LOVE, Prima ZOOM, Prima MAX and Prima Comedy and Prima Crime.
TV stations also increased the number of programmes available on the internet, bringing them to a larger audience. TV NOVA has its video library Voyo.cz, Prima group runs PrimaPlay.cz, while the Czech TV offers its programmes via iVysílání.cz.
The market for TV advertising is dominated by Nova and Prima (90%), while advertising on the Czech Television is limited to the minimum by the law. The television is traditionally the strongest advertising medium in the country.
Television stations play a large role in the production of quality content for local film and TV productions. The Czech TV has become a permanent partner of Czech cinema, with its in-house production sector Film Center coproducing increasing numbers of feature films. Czech TV is also a coproducer of almost all documentaries released in Czech cinemas.
Among TV projects produced by the public television in 2018 there are: the Czech historical TV miniseries Rašín directed by Jiří Svoboda, A Pilot Tale / Balada o pilotovi by Jan Sebechlebský and the film for children Magician Zito / Kouzelník Žito by Zdeněk Zelenka. Important miniseries dealing with the Czech history are also Jan Hrebejk´s Redl and the 8-part series Lynč directed by Klára Jůzová, Jan Bártek and Harold Apter. The Czech TV coproduced many important feature films including The Magic Quill by Marek Najbrt, Winter Flies by Olmo Omerzu, On the Roof by Jiří Mádl and Toman by Ondřej Trojan.
PRAGUE FILM FUNDMariánské náměstí 2/2, 110 00 Praha 1www.praguefilmfund.eu
Report by Denisa Strbova (2019) Sources: the Czech Film Fund, the Czech Film Center, the Czech Film Commission, the Film Distributor´s Union