Cinema City Novodvorska Plaza

Novodvorska 136,
Prague 142 00

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Cinema City Novodvorska Plaza became famous not because it was the smallest miniplex cinema in the capital city of Czech Republic, Prague, but because it was the first and sole multi-screen cinema in Czech Republic that was closed and not reopened again.

The theater opened on March 23rd 2006 as the eleventh multi-screen cinema in Prague and fourth site of Cinema City chain in Czech Republic (after Galaxie, Zlicin and Flora+IMAX). The decision on its opening (2004) came in a time, when several multiplex projects in Prague were cancelled or transformed into other entertainment sites (for example Eden, Centrum Chodov, Palladium). However, the developer Plaza Centers and the cinema operator Cinema City trusted the marketing researches and started to build the miniplex. Former researches, telling that people from Prague suburbs like to shop and go for entertainment downtown, were ignored.

The cinema was built as a part of the shopping center Novodvorska Plaza in southern Prague in the years 2005 and 2006. The construction costs for the miniplex were according to the project architect (Aurel FABRI Architect) about one million Euro (aprox. 1.3 million US$). The theater started with a preview of the picture “Inside Man” with Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster.

The five screens were located on the northern site of the first floor of the shopping center. The capacity of the auditoriums was 267, 2x 199, 96 and 87 seats. The three largest halls were equipped with a Dolby Digital system, the two smaller with Dolby Stereo SR. Projectors were delivered by Kinoton. Technically the smallest multi-screen cinema in Prague was unique thanks to its screens, which were all panoramic. Screen no. 1 was primarily designed for the CinemaScope format (2.35:1), all others for the primary format of 1.85:1. Besides that a new type of very comfortable and spacious seats was added (special pillows for comfortable resting of heads).

Novodvorska Plaza was built in 13 months on part of the site of the Research Institute for Communication Technology. The center front was the original administration building, which local people called “Khrushchev’s house” on the occasion of the state visit of the appointed leader of the Soviet empire. It was built in the late-1950’s of the last century in the “socialist realism” architectural style. In the beginning the mall had a leasable shopping area of 22 thousand square meters.

Right at the beginning of operation of the shopping center, something went wrong. Maybe the mall was actually leased by 95 percent, as the developer premised, but at the opening ceremony only a few dozens shops opened. Shoppers passed across the whole shopping center in few minutes. A tenant called the situation of the shopping center in July 2006 ‘a dormant kingdom’. Another problem was the absence of prominent fashion tenants. Also the Tesco grocery store was smaller than the Czechs were used to. After two another shopping malls (Galerie Butovice and Stodulky) Novodvorska Plaza became the third mall in Prague with economical problems.

After nearly two years of difficult economic operation, the Israeli company Cinema City International decided to close its theater Novodvorska Plaza by December 3rd 2008. Only closed bars and five movie posters were left after the Novodvorska Plaza cinema complex closed. The company did not communicate the reasons of the closure of its operation, but the operator of the shopping center said in a press release that the audience did not find its way into the theater. Some mall employees said anonymously, that on some days the theater has been even sold out, but the operator did not receive the required rent reduction.

The empty space after the miniplex filled the fashion tenant Lindex. It also covered almost the whole food court area. Now the center only has two small restaurants. As of January 2013 the shopping center Novodvorska Plaza did not have an entertainment establishment besides a casino, because the second amusement site (Fantasy Park) – a combination of children’s play area, a billiard and bowling center and a discotheque – also closed its doors.

The other multi-screen cinema closed in Czech Republic was also a Cinema City site – Park Hostivar. In this case, however, the center owner intervened and entered as an investor into a new operator (Premiere Cinemas), which after a few months, has opened a new theater in the shopping center.

Contributed by Ing. Juraj Misun, PhD.
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