Czech public tests ticket hike

PRAGUE – Will Czech auds plunk down $4 for a cinema ticket? Czech exhibitor Multikino 93 and distrib Intersonic are using event pic “Evita” to test public response to an unprecedented 50% price hike.

“According to the first weekend, the reaction is normal,” says Multikino 93 program director Petr Kot, referring to “ticket queues and some sell-outs.” With only two prints in distribution, exclusivity and an earlier-than-usual opening date (Czechs usually see films a month later than their Western neighbors), the strategy has turned “Evita” into a special event.

“This is only a test, not a standard,” says Kot. But he thinks it will help boost overall ticket prices at a faster rate. Though still less than half the price of tickets in neighboring Austria or Germany, a small price hike would make the Czech market more lucrative; the previous high was the $2.50-per-ticket charge for blockbuster “Independence Day.”

Ales Danielis of Bontonfilm, who is head of the Czech Union of Distributors, says it’s an experiment he and his colleagues are watching with great interest.

Falcon Film general manager Michael Malek told Daily Variety, ” ‘Evita’ was very much anticipated. I don’t think it would work with a (non-event) film. We would like to try it, too, but it’s a question of which film. ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt’ is a possibility.”

“Larry Flynt’s” helmer, Czech ex-pat and favorite son Milos Forman, is expected to attend the film’s late winter bow in Prague.

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