Slovak films fail to attract audiences

LAST year, Czech films earned 200 times more domestically than Slovak films in Slovakia, the Sme daily wrote. Slovak films accounted for only one percent of the audience as well as sales. Out of 2.7 million spectators who went to cinemas in Slovakia last year, only a few more than 28,000 saw one of the five Slovak films which premiered last year. They paid Sk2.8 million.

LAST year, Czech films earned 200 times more domestically than Slovak films in Slovakia, the Sme daily wrote. Slovak films accounted for only one percent of the audience as well as sales. Out of 2.7 million spectators who went to cinemas in Slovakia last year, only a few more than 28,000 saw one of the five Slovak films which premiered last year. They paid Sk2.8 million.

Compared with 2006, the number of cinema visitors in Slovakia decreased by one fifth and sales shrank by six percent, the ČTK newswire wrote.

"The number of moviegoers decreased to levels last seen a few years ago," said the chairman of the Slovak Union of Distributors Anton Ondrejka. "Attendance was very similar to that in 2000-2004."

Ondrejka ascribes the drop to the cancellation of the so-called cultural vouchers. The Culture Ministry introduced the vouchers in 2006 to encourage students to attend cultural events. Every student and teacher of basic and secondary schools which joined the project received four Sk50 vouchers redeemable for tickets to cinemas, theatres, libraries and other facilities.

The launch of new multiplexes was behind the not-so-steep drop in sales revenues. The average price for a movie ticket in 2007 was Sk97-Sk107 compared to Sk53-Sk95 in 2006.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Shrek the Third, and The Simpsons Movie were the most successful films in Slovakia last year, drawing 560,000 people to cinemas. The top ten list also includes two Czech films, Vratné Lahve (Empties) and Obsluhoval jsem Anglického Krále (I Served the King of England).

Sadly, the fact that as many as five Slovak movies premiered in 2007, after a year in which no Slovak film made it to the silver screen, did not awaken Slovaks' interest in local films.

In the neighbouring Czech Republic, the audience share for all Czech movies, not just those that premiered last year, exceeded 35 percent. Out of 12.8 million people who went to cinemas in the Czech Republic, more than 4.5 million saw Czech movies.

Czech movies also accounted for more than one-quarter of ticket sales in the Czech Republic, earning Kč427 million out of the total sales of Kč1.2 billion. When converted into the Slovak currency, Czech movies shown in the Czech Republic earned almost 200 times more than Slovak films in Slovakia.

Ondrejka admits that the market share of the local product in the Czech Republic, comparable only with France among European countries. However, in Hungary some local films also used to place among the top ten.

In Slovakia, Polčas Rozpadu (Half-life), the most successful Slovak movie of 2007, ranked 53rd in the attendance charts, attracting 12,349 viewers between its premiere on December 6, 2007, and the end of the year.

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