2016: We’ve Never Had Anything Like This Before 

2016 ushered in further records for Slovak cinemas. The gross box office taking grew by almost 23% year-on-year and totalled nearly 30 million Euro, which is the highest figure since Slovakia became independent. The total cinema attendance increased by 23.4% to almost 5.7 million viewers and was the highest since 1994. And the share of domestic films in last year’s total attendance was nearly 7% once again. The Red Captain (Červený kapitán) was the best attended domestic film.

Michal Kollár’s thriller The Red Captain was seen by 87,224 viewers hence, overall, it became the thirteenth most highly attended film of 2016 and the eighth most successful domestic film since Slovakia gained independence.

As regards production, the previous year was only two films behind the record number of films made in 2015. Twenty-eight full-length Slovak and co-production films were made (of these only nine were minority co-productions). However, the production of Slovak majority feature films declined dramatically, since only six were made.

There was a record number of premières. Twenty- -six Slovak full-length films were released in cinemas – thirteen feature films (of these, seven were minority co-productions), twelve documentaries (of these, only one was a minority co-production) and one minority animated film. These were complemented by the re-release of Martin Šulík’s Everything I Like (Všetko čo mám rád, 1992), a block of animated films by Katarína Kerekesová Mimi & Lisa (Mimi & Líza) and the mid-length documentary Life in the Clouds (Život v oblakoch, dir. Erik Baláž). In addition, four short animated films were released in cinemas and screened before the main films: Brother Deer (Braček Jelenček, SK, 2016, dir. Zuzana Žiaková), Star Taxi (Hviezdny taxík, SK, 2015, dir. Juraj Krumpolec), Cowboyland (Kovbojsko, SK, 2015, dir. Dávid Štumpf) and Superbia (Hungary/Czech Republic/Slovakia, 2016, dir. Luca Tóth).

Freedom under Load (Sloboda pod nákladom), made by Pavol Barabáš, was the best attended domestic documentary with 15,283 viewers and, as regards minority co-productions, Tomáš Hoffman’s comedy Stuck with a Perfect Woman (Bezva ženská na krku) was most successful with 46,568 viewers. Thanks to this comedy and also a comedy made by another débutant, Radek Bajgar, The Tiger Theory (Teória tigra), the share of minority co-productions in the attendance at Slovak films also increased once more after many years.

Slovak films were distributed to cinemas by eleven distribution companies – the Association of Slovak Film Clubs was once again the most active with nine domestic premières – and three production companies (Arolla, Art4, JM film) released their films directly into cinemas without the mediation of any traditional distributors.

The average attendance per screening of a 100 percent Slovak film or majority co-production increased from 30.26 viewers in 2015 to 31.83 in the previous year. Altogether, 377,072 people came to cinemas to all the domestic films screened, not just those that received their première, which makes a 6.6 percent share of the total attendance. Tatras: The New Story (Tatry, nový príbeh, 62.29 viewers) and Life in the Clouds (62 viewers) had the highest average attendance among documentaries, The Red Captain (45.81 viewers) and The Teacher (Učiteľka, 41.58 viewers) were the most successful among feature films.

Miro Ulman
The Red Captain. PHOTO: Forum Film