PRAGUE — Prague launched its first Filmania on Thursday, following the lead of discount cinema days such as Paris’ Printemps du Cinema.

Pushed by Palace Cinemas, one of the Czech Republic’s two major multiplex chains, the promotion promises to help fill seats from Thursday through Dec. 13 with thousands of the Czechs paying 50 crowns ($2.37), or a third of the usual price.

Palace topper David Horacek downplayed any prospects of the mass return of auds in the busy run-up to Christmas.

“This aims at celebrating Czech movies and cinemas, supporting the cinemas and could be a small gift for the regular cinemagoers,” he said.

Tomas Palicka, who heads the Czech Assn. of Multiplexes and is also managing director of Village Cinemas, said his chain joined in with a similar spirit and will discount all but its tickets for Gold Class screenings — those with luxury facilities and bar service.

Aud numbers have been up 15%-20% this week vs. the same time last year, thanks to “Borat” and “Casino Royale,” which Palicka called “a nice surprise.”

Overall numbers for 2006 are up after a disappointing 2005, he said, attributing the boost to a mix of global hits like the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” pic and hit Czech laffers such as “Rafters” and “Holiday Makers.”