Adding up all companies with stands, viewing boxes, meeting tables and suites, there are 132 exhibitors at this year’s NATPE Europe, the first to be held in Prague (and the first to be renamed NATPE Europe from NATPE Budapest). The majority of the companies are from the U.S. (25) followed by the U.K. There were three Russian exhibitors as well, which is surprising considering the 1968 Russian intervention to quell the nascent Democracy is still felt in the Czech Republic. Indeed Prague, a city that values its rich history, has managed to completely remove every remembrance of its Russian-dominated past. As a taxi driver commented, “We have tourists from all over the world and, unfortunately, from Russia as well.” Nevertheless, at NATPE Europe there are 17 Russian buyers and, surprisingly, 15 buyers from the troubled Ukraine.
Tuesday was a big day for U.S. studio screenings. CBS kicked off the day with their screenings at a nearby theater, Atlas Cinema, at 8 a.m., attracting about 50 buyers. Fox followed at 11 a.m. using two meetings rooms at the Hilton and reporting about 35 buyers.
NBCUniversal’s screenings started at 1 p.m., also using two hotel meeting rooms.
And on Tuesday night, there was a great opening party at Cloud 9 Sky Bar and Lounge on the ninth (and top) floor of the hotel, which is a perfect party location. Never before has a NATPE Europe party been so well done, with drinks and hors d’oeuvres — a good sign that the organizers are truly investing in the success of the market and the venue, which, as NATPE’s CEO Rod Perth stated, will be in Prague again next year.
Here’s how Prague compares to Budapest, where the market was held last year at the same time. As far as costs are concerned, the two cities are similar: no bargains to be found.
The venue, The Hilton Prague, with its 760 rooms, is huge in comparison with the Sofitel in Budapest. In some ways the Hilton Prague resembles a cruise ship more than a hotel. Plus, while the Sofitel is conveniently located near every amenity, The Hilton is in a sort of isolated area of Prague with poor pedestrian paths to boot. Finally, at $26 per day, the Wi-Fi service for all areas (including the market space) and rooms (except for the lobby area where it’s free), is considered too expensive and is generating some rumblings.
As for the layout, The Hilton has the same arrangement as the Sofitel, with a big atrium and suites overlooking the indoor space, while stands, tables and viewing boxes are in the basement or “Market Level,” which is also accessible from the street. However, the new set-up looks more like a convention center than the previous venue, with the first floor housing 40 suites and six more on the eighth floor.
The market floor, where the stands, viewing boxes and tables are located, seems much busier than the first floor, where the suites are located. It is, of course, possible that meetings are taking place inside, limiting the amount of floor traffic.
The closing party will be held on the Atrium’s large floor space. And on Wednesday a luncheon entitled “Celebration of Polish TV” took place at Cloud 9. The guest of honor was the award-winning director and scriptwriter Agnieszka Holland who unveiled details of her new international television projects at a media Q&A following the luncheon.
The lunch is the first in a planned annual salute to countries in the region and their local production capabilities, according to NATPE organizers. Partners were leading Polish commercial broadcaster and producer TVN; Poland’s largest independent producer ATM Group and the leading film distribution company in Poland, Monolith Films.