Admissions and sales are booming in the Czech Republic, where local cinemas earned $25.3m (CZK 551.5m) in first four months of the year — almost half the year-end figure for last year.

Czech cinemas earned $57.5m in all of 2009, the highest sales ever in the market, while admissions were down nearly a million viewers to 12.5m.

Total admissions from January through the end of April 2010 stood at 4.7m, according to the local Union of Film Distributors. The figure represents a year-on-year increase of 831,000 admissions.

Business is up partly to Avatar, which Bontonfilm released Dec 17 of last year. To date, the film has earned $9.5m on 1.3m admissions — more than consolation for the distributor, whose Iron Man 2 has earned only just over $400,000 in 14 weeks.

Bontonfilm is also behind another local hit Ženy v pokušení, which has earned nearly $4.7m since its March release. With 855,000 admissions to date, the comedy could easily replace Juraj Jakubisko’s Bathory, which saw nearly a million admissions in 2008, as the territory’s most successful local film ever.

Czech distributors and exhibitors are confident that 2010 will outpace last year, hanging hopes on two summer tent poles:

Bontonfilm will release 30 copies of Shrek Forever After on July 15, looking to repeat the success of Shrek The Third, released in 41 copies in June 2007, earning $2.9m in Czech cinemas.

Falcon will release an unspecified number of dubbed copies of Toy Story 3 on June 17. A midsummer slot worked very well last year for Bontonfilm’s release of Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, which eventually earned $4.5m locally.

The big winter release to watch will beHarry Potter And The Deathly Hallows on Nov 18. Warner Bros put out 51 copies of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince in mid-July 2009, and the film went on to earn $3.3m in the territory.