Distribution and admissions
In Poland, more than elsewhere in Europe, distributors have been hit by a drop in admission figures in 2005, down from 33 million in 2004 to 24 million (a drop of 27.3%) and receipts fell by 28.7%.
Yet, with 26 distribution companies, the number of distributors has increased by 10 since 2004. Among the main independent producers are Gutek Film, SPI International Polska, Monolith Films, Best Film, Vision and Kino Świat International.
The power of these independent producers is quite limited, in particular because of audience preferences, with box office results for 2005 dominated by entertainment cinema and films for a young audience, with five such films featuring in the top 10: Madagascar, Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire (each with admissions of 1.4 million), followed by Star Wars: Episode III, Chicken Little and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie.
As international productions are released the same days as in the rest of Europe, we can use the same reasons as elsewhere to explain this downward trend in admissions.
Firstly it is important to point out the ease of access to audiovisual media which act as a substitute for cinema, namely DVD and television. The choice of DVD over cinema is not only down to changes in habits, but in the case of the average Pole, economic factors also come into play. A DVD player (200 zlotys, €53) is only ten times more expensive than a cinema ticket, while a family ticket for 4 persons represents a significant cost in proportion to the average Polish salary: 80 zlotys (€21) for a family ticket in contrast to a gross monthly salary of 2500 zlotys (€660).
European cinema is almost entirely absent from Polish screens. The only European production to be a hit at the box office in 2005 was Storia di Carlo (Karol, a man become Pope) by Giacomo Battiato. The 1.9 million tickets sold by Battiato’s film – released in Poland two months following the death of John Paul II – is a specific case that is linked to the social context. As for Passion by Mel Gibson, Storia di Carlo by Battiato has certainly attracted an entirely new audience, failing however to obtain its loyalty and introduce it to other films.
Polish films on national screens in 2005 didn’t fare any better than non-Polish productions. Only three titles succeeded in drawing hundreds of thousands cinema-goers: Skazany na bluesa ( Born for the blues) by Kidawa-Błoñski (200,000 tickets sold), Collector [+see also:
film profile] by Feliks Falk and Pitbull by Patryk Vega (the latter two selling more than 100, 000 tickets each). But at the beginning of 2006, box office results threw up some surprises. A romantic comedy by Ryszard Zatorski, Tylko mnie kochaj (lit. But you must love me), broke records selling 1.4 million tickets in one month. In second position, with 759, 000 cinema-goers, was another film of the same genre, Ja wam pokażę (lit. You will see that) by Denis Delic, who wrote the script for the follow-up film Nigdy w życiu! (lit. Never in life) by Zatorski, which topped the box office in 2004 selling 1.6 million tickets.
According to a survey carried out in July 2005 by Pentor Research International, the Polish cinema-goer is neglecting indigenous films, which made up only a third of films screened. This explains why audiences have also almost entirely ignored recent films that have been appreciated by critics and juries at festivals, such as Trzeci (lit. The Third) by Jan Hryniak, 30, 000 cinema-goers, Persona non Grata [+see also:
film profile] by Krzysztof Zanussi, 26, 000, Jestem (lit. I Am) by Dorota Kedzierzawska, 10, 000, Rozdroże Cafe (lit. The bar of the roundabout) by Leszek Wosiewicz, 8, 500, Wróżby kumaka (lit. The call of the toad) by Robert Gliński, 6, 000, Mistrz (Maestro) by Piostr Trzaskalski, 5, 000 – while Trzaskalski’s previous film Edi drew 423, 000 cinema-goers.
We can therefore not conclude that Poles have turned away from national cinema for good, as their appetite for romantic comedies shows – but from auteur cinema. The same results apply to European auteur cinema. For distributors, releasing an artistically ambitious film represents a serious economic risk, especially in the case of Polish films whose television rights are owned by the co-production company.
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