Czech distributors knew early in the year that 2005 wouldnot be a record-breaker, but that didn't make the year's bitter figures easierto swallow. Box office admissions and sales both fell in 2005 more than 20%below 2004 level dropping to their lowest levels since 2001.
Box office for the territory slipped 22.7% year-on-year from $46.9m (CZK 1.1bn) in 2004 to $36.2m (CZK 854.5m). The admissions deficit was marginally smaller, down 21% from 91.8 million tickets sold in 2004 to 90.15 million in 2005. This is explained by the small reduction in average ticket price from 2004's $3.89 to 2005's $3.82. December was the only month that saw more than 1 million admissions.
Ales Danielis, director oftheatrical distribution for Bontonfilm, agrees thatmuch of the drop resulted from weak product. "The decreasing is mostly inthe major programme, from
"There weren't any major, major releases," saidAndrea Metcalf of film-buyer AQS.
Czech box-office figures lagged throughout the year and onlysaw a glimmer of hope in December with the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and King Kong. But while Potterearned $2m on 467,182 admissions in just one month, making it thesecond-biggest earner of the year, Kongdid poorly, bringing in just over $428,000 in its two-week run before year'send.
In 2004, the top-grossing film was Lord of the Rings: Return of the King with $3.4m on 778,852admissions. The number two film was that year's Harry Potter instalment, which did $2.6m on 703,219 admissions. Infact, each of the top five films of 2004 each made more at the box office thanthe number one film of 2005: From the SubwayWith Love, an adaptation of a best-selling novelby Michal Viewegh. Themovie opened in April and made $2.2m in sales on 550,670 admissions.
Weak performance for
Distributors and exhibitors do not agree on the extent towhich piracy and early
But a better 2006 may be in the wings. In its first 31 days,Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fireearned more than three-quarters the amount HarryPotter and the Prisoner of Azkaban made over six months in 2004. The Chronicles of Narnia:The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe did not openin Czech cinemas until the new year was under way.
More good news might come in the opening of two newmultiplexes in the second-tier cities of
Hopes are high for a variety of
Among the new crop of Czech films there are some likelywinners, including teen comedies TheExperts and The Rafters and worksfrom established directors Vera Chytilova, Jan Hrebejk and David Ondricek.
"I don't know if we can expect 2006 will return to thelevels of 2004," Danielis said. "Myexpectation is that the final of 2006 will be somewhere in the middle of 2005and 2004."
Metcalf is also cautiously optimistic. "I wouldn't bein the film distribution business if I wasn't hopeful," she said, butacknowledged the challenges. "This year is going to be tough. You have theOlympics and the (World Cup) football championships. We have to calculate allthese factors," she said. "I have to be very realistic, but I trustthat 2006 won't be any worse than 2005."
Top 10 Films
From the Subway With Love550,670 $2.2m
Harry Potter and theGoblet of Fire 467,182 $2.1m
Star Wars: Episode
Revenge of the Sith 273,676 $1.2m
War of the Worlds 256,857 $1.1m
Mr. and Mrs. Smith 233,190 $1m
Wrong Side Up 225,911 $1m
Over and Over! 212,728 $883,000
Alexander 206,069 $899,000