Lidice fails to reverse fall of Czech cinema

Kamil Fila
4. 7. 2011 13:08
2011 worst year in terms of attendance of Czech movies in last decade. No big hit seen coming
Foto: Bioscop

In terms of the attendance of Czech movies, this year is probably the worst in the last ten years. In the last decade, every year there was five or six Czech movies that attracted more than 200,000 viewers. Often, two or three titles a year gathered roughly 500,000 viewers, and every year there was a Czech movie seen by nearly one million people.

Though since the beginning of 2011, there has been only one movie that will without doubt break the 200,000 viewers barrier - Lidice, a high-budget film depicting a massacre committed during the Nazi occupation of the Czech lands. A part of this viewership will though be constituted by primary and secondary school students seeing the movie within (more or less) obligatory educational screenings.

Three weeks after the premiere, Lidice has been seen by 180,000 viewers, collecting CZK 22mil (EUR 900,000).

This means the Czech cinema is reaching the 2002 low - that year, only two Czech titles attracted more than 200,000 viewers.

The average attendance of Czech movies in 2011 is declining sharply, and is already at the worst level since 2004.

On the contrary, Czech movies had most viewers in 2009 and 2010 when, apparently, Czechs stopped to spend on "big things" such as flats, cars, or expensive holidays, and recompensed by spending more on smaller pleasures such as movies.

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Czech moviegoers and distributors are thus still waiting for a Czech movie that would attract one million (or at least 500,000) viewers. Many hope that a comedy called Muži v naději (Men in hope), directed by Jiří Vejdělek and to be premiered in August, may become such a hit.

Lidice's success comes from the very elaborate way it appeals to the patriotism of the audience. That's why it is no surprise that it focuses above all on older moviegoers, who often think that the Czech cinematography rarely offers any true value and omits key historical issues.

In spite of this, the movie is unlikely to break the 500,000 viewers barrier.

Other heavily promoted Czech movies fared much worse than critically appraised Lidice. Only 42,000 have seen a psychological drama Odcházení (Leaving) directed by former Czechoslovak and Czech President Václav Havel. This failure is generally considered to be an effect of the ex-president's ill reputation among the Czech public.

Read more: IN PICTURES: Havel's film "Leaving" premieres in Prague

A Czech movie with an English title Czech Made Man has so far attracted only 44,000 viewers, in spite of some unusual marketing strategies used to promote the movie about a Czech man who earns a fortune by registering misspelled web domain names.

The Czech movie production thus appears to be in serious troubles, and a savior is nowhere to be seen.

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