FNE Visegrad YR2021: Exhibition: Polish Box Office Buoyant

    Pitbull-Exodus by Patryk Vega Pitbull-Exodus by Patryk Vega

    WARSAW: The Polish box office is currently noting an increase in attendance figures and revenue despite the fourth wave of COVID-19, giving distributors hope of further recovery in 2022.

    This good streak experienced by Polish cinema chains, observed since June 2021, is being influenced by a number of high-profile film productions which have rolled through Polish screens ever since cinemas reopened after the third national lockdown in May 2021. The data collected and published by Boxofficemojo.com shows that the new James Bond title was the most successful film in Poland this year. No Time To Die, starring Daniel Craig, was released in Polish cinemas on 1 October and had over 440,000 admissions during its premiere weekend; sinceWedding 2 by Wojciech Smarzowski then, the title has grossed 3.3 m USD in Poland. “We are very happy that we were able to show this film to the viewers on the big screen. We are grateful to the producers, who did not succumb to pressure and who decided to premiere it only in cinemas. The film makes an electrifying impression; it is a great production,” said Sławomir Salamon, head of the Forum Film Poland distribution company, which released No Time To Die in cinemas in Poland.

    In the meantime, Dune, which was released in Polish cinemas on 22 October, has also achieved an impressive result from the moment it premiered, grossing a total of 3.2 m USD. The third most watched film in Poland this year was a local production, Patryk Vega’s Pitbull-Exodus produced by the director’s company Vega Investments, which premiered in Poland on 11 November 2021 and made an impressive 3 m USD in the first 10 days of exhibition in Polish cinemas. This film was distributed by Kino Świat. Vega’s film is followed by the US blockbuster Eternals, which has grossed 2.8 m USD in total, and by the 9th installment of the Fast And Furious series, which has earned 1.2 m USD since it opened in Polish cinemas on 25 June 2021.

    It is worth noting that over the last couple of years the top position at the Polish box office has always been taken by a local production. There is hope for a return of this trend in the autumn of 2021, with several major Polish premieres noting successful results. Almost 140,000 admissions were registered during the first screening weekend of Wojciech Smarzowski's new film, a rendition of his debut Wedding (Studio Metrage) on 8 October 2021. It was the most successful film launch for a Polish title in 2021, until a new drama from Cyprian T. Olencki entitled Hungry Back Then by Kinga DębskaCrocodiles / Furioza, starring popular Polish actor Mateusz Damięcki, racked up 141,900 admissions in its opening weekend, starting on 22 October 2021. The film was distributed by Kino Świat.

    “The cinema is slowly rebuilding its position, which had been severely damaged by the pandemic, due to the resulting limitations. The performance during the first two quarters of this year was very slow again, as cinemas in Poland were closed until mid-May. Nevertheless, the summer holiday season, which is now over, allows us to look forward to the coming months with greater optimism. The total number of cinema viewers in this period has accounted for almost 70% of the total number of admissions in the same period before the pandemic. This is a good result, given that there were fewer Polish films on offer - and these are usually the most attractive to a great part of our viewers - and since going back to the cinema is obviously not the first choice during summer after a period of lockdown. We believe that such a ‘permanent’ return will certainly take place when the most attractive productions are available on the big screen,” Frederic Berardi, Head of The Board of Kino Świat, the leading Polish distributor, and CFO at CANAL+ Polska, told FNE.

    The strong roll out in Polish cinemas this autumn is possible mainly due to the recovery fund provided by the Polish Film Institute. Film distribution was one of the priorities of the Polish Film Institute's operational programmes for 2021. The aim of this priority is to support distribution of Polish feature films in cinemas in Poland during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to increase cooperation between distributors and producers. Each Polish film title that guaranteed the broadcast of at least 300 cinema screenings in the period from May to August 2021 received a subsidy to support distribution this year, as part of the PISF aid programmes established in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The condition for the offered co-financing - the maximum amount of which is 638,176 EUR / 3m PLN - is to achieve a minimum level of exploitation of 300 cinema screenings by 31 August 31 2021. Patryk Vega’s film was one of the Black Mill by Mariusz Palej concept artproductions that received the maximum amount of the grant and several films that received PISF’s support went on to note strong box office results over the summer. “In the period following the reopening of cinemas, among Polish titles the viewers have chosen to watch Small World (Vega Investments), Black Sheep (TVN), The Master (Iron Films), Nothing Soup (Studio Filmowe KALEJDOSKOP) and Black Mill (Multikino S.A). In recent months, the number of foreign premieres has been greater than that of Polish premieres, so it is natural that the attendance to foreign films has also been higher,” said Sebastian Wojna, Head of Marketing at Multikino S.A. “The reopening of cinemas came during the summer holiday period, which is characterised by numerous premieres of family films, and it was these productions that were most often chosen by Multikino's viewers. In the TOP10 of the most-chosen films in the last three months, as many as 50% were animated and family films,” he adds.

    The reopening of cinemas in May 2021 gave hope to distribution companies and cinema owners. Over 200,000 viewers visited cinemas on the opening weekend of all the multiplexes between the 5 and 6 June 2021. During a press conference held at the time, President of the leading Polish cinema chain Helios, Tomasz Jagiełło pointed out that presales for that weekend were ten times higher than in the similar period preceding the opening of cinemas after the first lockdown. Hence, his forecast for the coming months was, and remains, very optimistic: “I would like us to achieve 40-50% of full cinema capacity in Q3.” As time has shown, these results were achieved by the Polish industry. Time will tell if the last quarter of the year 2021 proves equally successful, as it seems that Polish cinemas have been saved by local productions, the premieres of which are still taking place as planned for the time being, despite the rise in the COVID-19 cases.