KARLOVY VARY: Fifteen years after the Czech audiovisual industry lost its position as the envy of Europe, the Czech Association of Audiovisual Producers (APA) announced that industry turnover reached a record 8.2 billion CZK / 320 m EUR in 2018, exceeding its previous high of 7.6 billion CZK / 300 m EUR dating back to 2003.
Income from foreign productions alone increased by 56%, to 194 m EUR. Milk and Honey Films producer Radomir Docekal said the increase was due mainly to the demand from TV series, which spend longer periods shooting in Prague. International series accounted for nearly 500 shooting days in 2018. Three series serviced by Stillking Films accounted for nearly 160 m EUR in production spend.
The Czech Republic lost its position on the market after the government lagged behind neighbouring countries, who were introducing film incentives in 2003. Incentives were finally introduced in 2010, at the then-standard rate of 20%. Since then, however, other European countries have continued to increase their rate of incentives, leaving the Czech Republic lagging behind. Slovakia is expected to raise its film incentives to 33% as early as September.
The spend on domestic production rose by just over 46%, also reaching an all-time high, at 1.5 billion CZK / 60 m EUR. Of that, 44 m EUR was spent on independent Czech films and 14 m EUR was spent on TV content.
The one downside in the 2018 numbers was due to a decline in the spend on commercials, which fell from 84 m EUR in 2017 to 69 m EUR in 2018. The drop was attributed to more international competition as well as the inability to accommodate them.
Documentary and animated film production are both flourishing. Documentaries are attracting higher cinema attendance, as well as benefiting from an overall rise in documentary coproduction. Animated film production is benefiting from increased state funding for development and production.
Exhibition also hit new records, with 298 films premiering in Czech cinemas in 2018, including 70 Czech productions (39 features, 29 documentaries, 2 animated films), compared to 55 in 2017. Attendance also soared to 16.3 m, the highest rate in over 25 years. Box office increased by 13%, reaching 89 m EUR, while ticket prices increased by almost 5%, to an average price of 5.5 EUR. Czech films continue to do well on the domestic market, accounting for 16 films among the top 50 films in 2018.