Europe’s recovery form the coronavirus pandemic is ahead of that in the US. While Czech cinemas have now fully reopened, they are suffering from a lack of new titles to show since the summer relies on Hollywood action films.
With Hollywood pushing back global release dates for summer blockbusters due to the domestic situation in the US, six of the top ten films at the Czech box office this weekend were local productions, including the presidential biopic Havel.
The comic book blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 has been moved to October and the James Bond adventure No Time to Die is now set for November. Both were originally scheduled to open in spring 2020.
One of the first big new Hollywood films to hit Czech screens may be Christopher Nolan’s highly awaited spy thriller Tenet, But people still have to wait until August 27, which is still sooner than when it will arrive in the US. But like many other films, the date has moved several times and may move again.
Other titles are in limbo, postponed to sometime in 2021 as distributors are reluctant to spend money on advertising, only to have to cancel the new date and again disappoint the audience.
The action film Medieval (Jan Žižka), shot in the Czech Republic and featuring Ben Foster and Michael Caine, has been pushed back to February 6, 2021.
No new films opened in Czech cinemas between March 11 and May 11, and since then the selection has mostly been European art house films, a handful of new Czech films plus a new, more explicit cut of the documentary Caught in the Net (V síti).
There were also a 20th anniversary edition of the classic Czech film Loners (Samotáři), a 30th anniversary edition of Smoke (Kouř), and a 40th anniversary edition of Jiří Menzel’s film Cutting It Short (Postřižiny), based on the novel by Bohumil Hrabal. These are not expected to be huge financial successes, but will at least provide something to help fill a few seats.
“We shot the film Loners for the silver screen and the darkened halls of cinemas. That is why I am extremely happy that it is returning to cinema distribution after 20 years in a restored version. I wonder if the current young generation will accept it the way they did in 2000. Maybe, despite all the social networks, we are even further away today, and even though we live in big cities, we are still Loners,” director David Ondříček said.
The most anticipated of the European art films is Proxima, opening July 30 after having been pushed back from March. The French-German co-production, partly in English, stars Eva Green as a French astronaut who has to juggle her space training and the responsibilities of being a single mom. Matt Dillon appears as an American astronaut who questions her capabilities. While billed as sci-fi, it is really a domestic drama built around space training.
Sci-fi fans currently have to make do with a 40th anniversary remastered edition of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back that has curiously popped up in some Czech multiplexes, but only in English without Czech subtitles.
While that is fine for Americans and Brits living here, some Czechs have pointed out on Facebook page for Moviezone.cz that it is inconvenient and will only appeal to a limited audience. One person commenting on Facebook said that the lack of titles meant the number of tickets sold probably wouldn’t justify starting the projector, while another person lamented that it was the re-edited version and not the original cut. Finally, someone states the obvious — that everyone has already seen it multiple times.
Czech films to come out recently include the well-received biopic Havel, looking at the life of the late president during the Normalization era. The comedy 3Bobule, the third outing for the comedic series about life in a vineyard in South Moravia got mixed reviews. The comedy Bourák, starring Ivan Trojan, had a mostly negative reaction.
The Czech film Charlatan (Šarlatán), by director Agnieszka Holland, has been pushed back to August 20. It tells the true story of natural healer Jan Mikolášek, who fell afoul of communist authorities. The film played at the Berlin Film Festival in February, and was supposed to be the opening of Febiofest in March.
Many international films from 2019 and early 2020 that could fill in the gaps in theaters unfortunately are already on streaming services or download platforms, making them of little box office value. Even films blocked in Europe have already been widely seen due to the use of VPNs to virtually change the viewers’ location.
Here is a list of major upcoming cinema releases to the end of 2020, subject of course to change:
Trolls World Tour
The New Mutants
After We Collided
The War with Grandpa
The King’s Man
Mucha: The Story of an Artist who Created a Style
Wonder Woman 1984
Death on the Nile
Clifford the Big Red Dog
No Time to Die
Let Him Go
The Happiest Season
Coming 2 America
West Side Story
The Croods 2
Escape Room 2