Wojciech Smarzowski’s controversial film about the Polish church attracted almost 1 million cinemagoers last weekend – more than any other movie since the end of communism.
Kler tells the story of three priests and covers a number of problems allegedly present in the church – alcoholism, child abuse, bribery and corruption. The film is currently being screened at Kino Nowe Horyzonty with English subtitles.
Over 935,300 people went to the see Kler on its opening weekend. By comparison, the previous record holder was 50 Shades of Grey with 834,479 viewers. The hotly anticipated Star Wars: A Force Awakens gathered 788,568 viewers in 2015 – roughly 150,000 less people than Kler.
The astonishing figures suggest that roughly 2.6% of the entire population of Poland saw the film within the first 3 days of its release. The trailer has also racked up an incredible 3.5 million views.
Here in Wrocław the film was arguably more popular than anywhere else. Multikino in Pasaż Grunwaldzki reportedly showed the film 22 times on the day of its release – more than any other cinema in Poland.
The movie appears to have benefited from widespread media publicity, whether it be positive or negative. Public TV broadcaster TVP ran a damning segment about Kler last week, deeming it be a “satanic” piece of work that was “being promoted by German publishers”.
Just days before, TVP also chose to cut out a segment of their Gdynia Film Festival coverage that contained an interview with Kler‘s director. On top of that, in mid-September PiS MP Anna Sobecka revealed that the governing party were considering measures to stop the film hitting cinemas. Councillors in Elk also tried to block the film being shown in their town.
Given the record figures, all of the aforementioned anger and controversy over the film has seemingly propelled interest in Kler to a level beyond anyone’s expectations. If the high viewership numbers continue, there is even a chance it will become the highest grossing Polish film ever.