Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech audiovisual and film industry could become a collateral victim of the coronavirus crisis.
In a statement, the Czech Republic’s Audiovisual Producers’ Association (APA), gathering more than 100 domestic production companies, warned that film production may decrease by as much as 75% by the end of the year as a result of the viral Covid-19 outbreak. Giving the example of the U.K., the director of APA Magdalena Kralova urged the Czech government to introduce special incentives to support the domestic movie industry in these times of crisis.
“The impact on audiovisual industry is currently similar to all other areas, including creative and cultural industries, with small and medium sized companies being affected most”, explained head of the Czech Film Fund Bezdek Frankova.
Not all sectors are equally impacted by the film industry crisis, with experts noting that animation, one of the Czech cinema’s flagship industries, isn’t affected as seriously as others due to the greater possibility to work in home office regime.
The shooting of many Czech audiovisual projects, both at home and abroad, have already been cancelled, including the series Children, Ulice and Ordinace v ruzove zahrade 2, on top of the filming of the new feature film by Olmo Omerzu, most recently known for Winter Flies which was selected as the country’s entry for last year’s Oscars and winner of the Czech Lion Award for Best Film 2019.
More projects, whether domestic or international co-productions, could follow suit if the coronavirus continues to spread during the following weeks or months.
Movies that have already been released are also suffering from the closure of all cinemas in the country and the halt in film distribution. This includes Vit Klusak’s V siti (Caught in the Net in its English version, which explores the topic of sexual predators on the internet), which broke attendance records and became the most popular Czech documentary of all time, registering over 300,000 admissions two weeks after its release.
“The current situation harmed the society-wide debate and hampered the system changes, which started to come in thanks to the film, not to mention the economic impact […] It is a timeless topic, and we believe the film will return to cinemas and schools and the whole debate will continue. However, it will be hard to follow up on the unique momentum we managed to create”, commented Rada Urbancová from the Aerofilms distribution company.
Last year, foreign productions generated record revenues in the Czech Republic, led by numerous projects by the major U.S. streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Main photo credit: FAMU International Prague