Czech cinemas rebound with buoyant audience figures

Photo: Manu Mohan / freeimages

The Czech film industry is currently enjoying something of a renaissance. Last year, cinema operators sold nearly 13 million tickets, which is the highest number since 2010, when the figure reached over 13.5 million. Sales reached a record 1.67 billion crowns. With over 600 cinemas, the Czech Republic boasts one of the densest networks of cinemas per person in Europe.

Photo: Manu Mohan / freeimages
The most popular film in 2015 was The Minions with 830,000 visitors, followed by Fifty Shades of Grey with 557,000 viewers and the latest Star Wars movie. The biggest Czech box office was Life is Life, which ranked 11th overall.

Jan Pecka of the Union of Film Distributors told the daily Hospodářské noviny that there are several reasons behind the cinema business boom. One of them is the price of tickets, which has become more accessible to the wider public after years of economic crisis.

He also said Czech cinemas succeeded in attracting younger viewers, especially by offering more films of their choice, such as animated films and comics adaptations on their programme. Young people around the age of 18 are among the biggest cinema goers.

Another factor that fuelled cinema-going in the Czech Republic is digitalisation, Mr Pecka told the daily. A system of EU subsidies supporting digitalization enabled the reopening of a number of smaller cinemas, which had been forced to close down in the past.

On the other hand, some experts say the digital switch may require more investments for cinemas in the future, and warn that the owners of small cinemas couldn’t afford the maintenance costs.

Currently, the average price of cinema tickets in the Czech Republic is 129 crowns, but some of the cinema multiplexes operators have already announced plans to increase the price. There are altogether 629 cinemas in the Czech Republic at the moment with a capacity of 203,000 seats. The country’s 29 multiplexes take up 75 percent of the total income and 70 percent of all the cinema goers.

The most recent multiplex was built in 2014 in Teplice. Another one is set to open in České Budějovice next year and in 2017 the biggest multiplex should open in Prague’s shopping centre Chodov.