Czech Box Office Hit of 2008: Grapes

By Radovan Holub
    A Czech feel-good comedy, Grapes, is turning into a local box office hit.

    Grapes, with a budget of 800,000 euros (CZK20 million), with 355,000 domestic viewers and 1.4 million euros in sales revenues compares favorably with 2007's popular Teddy Bear by Jan Hrebejk; however, the numbers pale next to two other 2007 hits: Empties by Jan Sverak and I Served the King of England by Jiri Menzel, with more than 1 million viewers.

    Grapes opened on March 27, 2008 with 31 prints. The first sign of success was the Audience Award from the Festival of Czech films in Pilsen in April. Grapes is the second feature film by Tomas Barina (1974) and tells the amusing story of two male friends, Honza. a city slicker and Jirka, a con artist with a talent for seducing women. When Honza's grandfather becomes seriously ill, his grandson decides to fulfill his dream by sending him for a last holiday and watching over his winery. Grapes stars popular Czech actor Krystof Hadek.

    Producer Adam Dvorak's previous film was the 2006 box office hit The Rafters (680,000 viewers). Grapes in first place in the charts until the Slovak-Czech film Bathory surpassed it in the second half of 2008. "The reason for the success of Grapes in my view is the timing," Dvorak told FNE. "The film opened just at the end of the winter months, spring was in the air, although temperatures were still about 10 degrees Celsius. We brought a feel-good summer comedy with good actors, and we surprised the audience at a time when long-awaited films were not pleasing them so much." Dvorak is about to make a follow-up, Grapes II with the same actors and based on a script by Tomas Holecek. Grapes II will start shooting in May 2009 and premiere in October 2009.

    Grapes is distributed by Bioscop/Magic Box. "We are pleased by the box office numbers, however DVD distribution started October 27 and is not yet finished," Irena Prokopova from Bioscop/Magic Box told FNE. "Grapes is a domestic hit. We have good sales in Poland but basically this kind of film makes money mainly at home." Grapes even had some festival play: Febiofest Prague, the International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Zlin, and the International Film Festival in Hamburg, and will be seen at the Tiburon (California) film festival.