Czech Cinema Attendance Down in 2011

By Michal Prochazka

    PRAGUE: Czech films and cinemas are off to a slow start in the first half of 2011, with numbers approaching 2010 results looking unlikely for the year as a whole.

    In 2010, five national hits were in the top ten films, with Czech films claiming 37% of the market share. In the first half of 2011, only three Czech films have more than 100,000 viewers, and attendance overall reached only 4.5 million - far short of reaching the 13 million viewers for 2010. Local professionals still hope that the second half of the year will show a revival.

    In 2010, 1.2 milion tickets were sold for the top Czech film, Women in Temptation. More recently, the hype of 3D animation has dampened Czech enthuasism for local films.

    It's a stunning shift for Czech filmmakers. While some neighboring territories would brag of a 17% share of viewers, it's a drop of around 50% from Czech results in recent years. Even a popular filmmaker such as Jan Hřebejk drew relatively weak results with his film Innocence (Rudolf Biermann´s IN Film company, www.infilm.cz), reaching only 170,000 viewers since January. Hit-maker Zdeněk Troška´s fairy tale Devil's Bride (MediaPro Pictures - www.mpp.cz; Golem film - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) was attended only by 110,000 thousand viewers,; and the first Czech puppet 3D animation Fimfarum: The Third Time Lucky (MAUR film, www.maurfilm.com) attracted only 80,000 viewers. On the serious side, Vaclav Havel´s Leaving (Jaroslav Bouček, www.bucfilm.cz) barely surpassed 50,000 people for this unique Czech ex-President´s film debut.

    One film that did draw audiences was the educational historical WWII drama Lidice from director Petr Nikolaev and producer Adam Dvořák (Bioscop, www.bioscop.cz) with 400,000 viewers. Over 100,000 spectators saw F.A. Brabec´s musical fairy tale The Magical Duvet (Igor Konyukov´s Hollywood Classic Entertainment production, www.hce.cz), shot as a live action movie in 3D.

    A handful of new films look positive for the fall, including Jiří Vejdělek version of a male Czech „Sex in the City," called Men of Hope (producers Tomáš Hoffman, Jiří Vejdělek from IN Film; www.infilm.cz) whihc had strong opening weekend results. Expectations are high for Venice fest selection Alois Nebel (www.negativ.cz) and the November release of director Alice Nellis´s Perfect Days (Rudolf Biermann of IN film, www.infilm.cz).