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BOX OFFICE Czech Republic

Caught in the Net makes history in Czech cinemas and tops the pandemic-era box office

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- Barbora Chalupová and Vít Klusák's film about online predators dominated the domestic box office last year, becoming the first documentary to do so

Caught in the Net makes history in Czech cinemas and tops the pandemic-era box office
Caught in the Net by Barbora Chalupová and Vít Klusák

The year 2020 will go down in history as an annus horribilis for many industries, including the movie theatres. Owing to measures brought in to battle the spread of the coronavirus, theatres shut down and distribution plans were altered several times, with premieres postponed until the following year. While the local box office in the Czech Republic cratered by 65% compared to the previous year (see the news), the lack of US imports actually benefited domestic productions.

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Theatres in the Czech Republic were closed down from 13 March-10 May and again from 12 October until the end of 2020. A domestic documentary about online predators directed by Barbora Chalupová and Vít Klusák, Caught in the Net [+see also:
film review
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film profile
]
, rocketed to the top of the domestic box office (see the news) and retained that spot until the end of the year. Chalupová and Klusák’s feature became the first documentary to achieve the herculean feat, outperforming US imports and, most importantly, domestic mainstream fare.

Indeed, local commercial productions turned out to be the main competition for Caught in the Net. After the 2019 blockbusting success of the Czech romantic comedy Women on the Run [+see also:
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film profile
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(a record-breaking first directorial outing for Martin Horský, which attracted 1,543,842 paying cinemagoers into theatres – see the news), the Czech-Slovak rom-com A Too Personal Acquaintance [+see also:
trailer
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by Slovak director Marta Ferencová landed in second place (100,443 theatre-goers shy of the top spot). The third instalment in the Bobule romantic feature-film series, 3Bobule [+see also:
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, was next, followed by Agnieszka Holland’s biopic Charlatan [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Agnieszka Holland
film profile
]
and another rom-com, Petr Zahrádka's Chlap na střídačku [+see also:
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]
(a Czech remake of Alexandra Leclère’s film Joint Custody [+see also:
trailer
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]
). The top five most-visited films in theatres are thus solely domestic (co-)productions. Curiously enough, other versions of Caught in the Net, Caught in the Net 18+ (the uncensored version) and Caught in the Net: Behind the School (a version for schools), landed in the 23rd and 32nd spots of the Czech 2020 box office, respectively.

The aftermath of the outbreak of the pandemic changed the behaviour of theatre-goers, who have had to rely more on VoD services following the shuttering of cinemas. Subscribers to domestic streaming platform Aerovod (run by the distribution company Aerofilms) grew tenfold on the numbers for the previous year. The top three most-viewed films of 2020 on Aerovod were domestic productions as well, with Jiří Havelka’s chamber comedy Owners [+see also:
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topping the list, followed by Marek Slobodník’s travelogue Through Africa on a Pioneer and Caught in the Net. The demand for online content grew fivefold on another local VoD service, DAFilms.cz, during the first wave. Caught in the Net was the most-watched documentary on DAFilms.cz, followed by Greta Stocklassa’s Kiruna - A Brand New World [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Viera Čákanyová’s FREM [+see also:
film review
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interview: Viera Čakányová
film profile
]
, while Owners dominated the fiction category, with Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník’s revenge drama Old-Timers [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Martin Dušek, Ondřej Provaz…
film profile
]
in second place and the Czech mumblecore effort Karel, Me and You by Bohdan Karásek ending up as the third most-watched film.

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