PRAGUE — The surprise sacking of AB Barrandov CEO Vaclav Marhoul is drawing mixed reactions.

Czech President Vaclav Havel, whose family founded the studio, sent a letter of regret. Director Jan Sverak was among a host of film community members who denounced the firing.

But at Barrandov Studios, which handles rental activities, work continued as usual. Outside the studio, some felt the CEO’s exit was only a matter of time, with a paucity of investment in local production and ineffectual distribution drawing criticism.

Marhoul told Daily Variety that the official reason for his sacking was poor economic results in 1996. He blamed the 1996 loss on the transfer of $1.5 million, from a Barrandov property sale, for the use of majority shareholder Moravia Steel.

“I was angry, but I couldn’t do anything,” Marhoul said.

Marhoul owns 20% of AB Barrandov, to Moravia Steel’s 79.7%. Now, said Marhoul, “I can use my shares as wallpaper.”

Looking to the future, Marhoul said he will continue making films, but has no immediate plans. “I’d like to come back, because I didn’t finish my work, but I don’t know how.”

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