Prague's Kino Svetozor launches new 'adopt-a-seat' scheme


Kino Svetozor is one of the oldest cinemas in the Czech Republic, screening its first film way back in 1918. The film-house may be one of the most historic in the Czech Republic, but over the years, it has taken great pains to keep up with cinematic trends. In 1968, it revamped its whole interior to accommodate 'kinoautomat' - or interactive cinema - a conceptual type of film invented by director Raduz Cincera. Now, Svetozor is introducing Czech cinemagoers to something new again - this time, the concept of visitors "adopting" their own seats. Earlier today, Rosie Johnston visited the Prague cinema to ask Jiri Sebesta about the scheme:

Kino Světozor
"So, right now we are sitting in the big screening hall of Kino Svetozor, which will celebrate its 70th birthday next year. So, it's quite an old cinema. But this furniture. I don't know exactly, but I sincerely hope it isn't 70 years old. I think it's a little bit newer, but it still needs to renovated soon. So that's why, this autumn, we are preparing for a big renovation or, modernization rather, of Kino Svetozor."

As part of the modernization, you've got this 'adopt a seat' programme. This sort of thing is not at all usual in the Czech Republic, so I was wondering where you got the idea from?

"Actually, we were inspired by one cinema in London. One colleague of mine lived in London for a year, and saw it there, we thought it might go down well in the Czech Republic too. Modernization is not cheap, and so we started up this seat-adoption scheme to help us finance this project."

If it is very successful, and people do adopt lots of seats, how much of the renovation will be covered by this seat-adoption scheme?

"It's not so drastic. I think it will be maybe one fifth of all expenses. So it is not really half of it. It's only one fifth, but it helps."

How has the response been? Have lots of people wanted to adopt a seat?

"Right now, we are quite positively surprised. It started ten days ago, and we already have 32 adopted seats. So, there are still 300 to go. But, at the beginning, we weren't sure if even 2 people would adopt a seat, because it is something quite new for Czechs. But we hope this will continue, and at least half of the seats in the cinema will be adopted."

So, if you do adopt a seat, what sort of perks do you get for your money, and how much does it cost?

"You can adopt one seat as an individual, or as a company. There are 2 prices, for an individual, it costs 5 thousand CZK for five years, for a company, it costs 20 thousand CZK. In our cinema, there will be 7 double seats - huge seats for two persons. They cost 7 thousand CZK. If you adopt a seat, your name will be on that seat. You get invites to special screenings which are just for our 'parents' too."