Country Focus: Czech Republic
Czech production levels reveal challenges
by Theodore Schwinke
- Representatives of the Czech Audiovisual Producers Association (APA) revealed 2007 production volume numbers to reporters at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Spend on Czech features dropped 23% to CZK 613m, but spend in 2006 was exceptionally high owing to investment in Juraj Jakubisko's CZK 324m historical thriller Bathory [+see also:
The State Fund for Support and Development of Czech Cinematography has ballooned in recent years to its current level of €4-6m.
As a result, the number of local films is skyrocketing. Czech market share at the boxoffice is at 41%. In the first five months of this year, Czech filmgoers spent €185m on local films.
But viewership in individual films has declined. Only one film – Tomas Barina's comedy Bobule – has exceeded 400,000-admissions, a local benchmark for commercial success.
APA chairman Pavel Strnad rejected suggestions that there are too many Czech films. "From my point of view, it's never been better," he said.
Foreign producers spent CZK 2.1bn in the Czech Republic in 2007, an increase of 56% over 2006. However, APA representives say that 70% of that money came from just one US production – The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Producers say fewer foreign films are shooting in Prague because of the strength of the Czech crown and their country's lack of incentives.
APA representatives admitted that the flow of runaway productions to territories further east has meant not only lost money, but lost talent. Petr Keller, deputy chairman of APA, cited Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, which shot in Hungary, as an example. "I visited the shoot and more than half the people [on the crew] were from Prague," he said.
Czech political leaders have rejected attempts in the past to create a tax incentive like Hungary's, which would benefit all filmmakers – Czechs and non-Czechs alike. APA representatives said that they would renew their efforts in September by lobbying the government to create a system similar to the German Federal Film Fund.