Admissions in the Czech Republic grew 13% year on year for the first half of 2007, with cinemas earning total revenues of nearly $31.3m (czk637m). If the trend continues, 2007 will outpace last year's 11.5 million admissions, continuing the recovery from 2005's 9.5 million.

The Czech Republic, which has a population of 10.2 million, saw just over 6.6 million admissions between January 1 and June 30, the best first-half performance in recent years, according to the Czech Union of Film Distributors.

So far, 2007 has seen two record-breaking films at the Czech box office. Jan Sverak's Empties has emerged as the highest-grossing Czech film ever, earning $5.5m (czk111.6m) on 1.1 million admissions since its March 8 premiere. Sverak's comedy is followed by Jiri Menzel's I Served The King Of England, which opened on December 19, and earned $3.9m (czk79.2m) on 820,624 admissions. Czech romantic comedy The Bitch's Diary was the fifth-highest grossing film, earning $1.2m (czk24.4m) on 236,743 admissions.

International big hitters

Otherwise, the top films have followed established international trends, with the biggest earners including Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (350,244 admissions), Shrek The Third (291,645), Night At The Museum (188,885), Spider-Man 3 (182,183), Mr Bean's Holiday (179,111) and 300 (173,391).

The first-half results do not include international hits such as Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, which opened on July 19 ($2.5m), The Simpsons Movie, which opened July 26 ($1.7m) and Transformers, which has taken $330,651 since August 18.

Czech films likely to perform well in their home territory in the second half of 2007 include Jan Hrebejk's Teddy Bear, Tomas Vorel's teen drama Gympl and Juraj Jakubisko's historical thriller Bathory.

Cashing Czechs

New research suggests that box-office admissions in Central Europe could rise by 25% over the next five years with the Czech Republic seeing the strongest growth.

The Dodona Research report, Cinemagoing Central Europe, says that increasing investments in new cinemas throughout the region, coupled with strong local film industries, will help boost cinema attendance. Forecasts predict the number of cinema screens across Central Europe is set to cross 3,000 by 2011 - a net increase of 11% on 2006.

And new cinema construction across Central Europe is expected to surge due to the anticipated closure of some traditional cinemas. Poland - the largest market in the region - is set to see the most growth in new multiplexes. Since the instalment of the first multiplex screens in 1998, the country now has more than 400.

Smaller markets such as Croatia and Romania are also seeing increased investment in multiplexes.

Admissions in the Czech Republic are predicted to increase by more than 50% in the next five years. The country already boasts some of the strongest cinema attendance rates in Central Europe, but anticipated admissions growth will take the Czech Republic to 1.8 admissions per person, per year.

Gross box office in the Czech Republic is expected to reach $81.1m by 2011 and admissions are anticipated to reach 17.77 million the same year.

After the region experienced a slump in admissions in 2005, analysis found most markets experienced a recovery in 2006.

"Our analysis revealed that Slovakia posted the strongest results in 2006, with a 53% rise in admissions on the previous year," says report author Alisdair Ritchie. "Despite its still old-fashioned infrastructure, admissions reached a record 3.4 million (in the region) and we expect them to rise by a further 21% by 2011."