A permanent film theater was opened in Prague in 1907 by the conjuror Ponrepo and regular film production began in 1910. By the beginning of World War I, over a third of the cinemas in Austria-Hungary were based in the Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia. Lucernafilm was established in Prague in 1915 by Václav Havel, grandfather of the future president Václav Havel; while other companies, including Weteb, Excelsior, Praga, and Poja, followed at the end of the war. Czech cinema's first international success was Karel Degl's Stavitel chrámu ( The Builder of the Cathedral , 1919) while the first Slovak feature, Jaroslav Siakel's Jánošík , was made in grandfather of the future president Va 1921 with US financing.
The first important studio was founded by the American and Biografia company (the A-B Company) in 1921, and the actor-director Karel Lamač established the Kavalírka studios in 1926, where some of the most important films were made before 1929, when they were destroyed by fire. Despite strong competition from the German and US cinemas, feature production in the silent period averaged over twenty-six (Czech) features and was marked by both artistic and commercial success. Lamač directed a successful adaptation of Jaroslav Hašek's comic anti-war novel Dobrý voják Švejk ( The Good Soldier Švejk ) in 1926, which was followed by three silent sequels: Švejk na frontě (Švejk at the Front , 1926), directed by Lamač, na frontě ( Švejk v ruském zajetí ( Švejk in Russian Captivity , 1926), directed by Svatopluk Innemann; and S ( Švejk v civilu (Švejk in Civilian Life , 1927), directed by Gustav Machatý. In partnership with his then-wife Anny Ondra (1902–1987), who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's The Manxman and Blackmail (both 1929), Lamač formed a successful team that achieved international success in the French, Austrian, and German cinema, although they transferred their production base to Berlin in 1930.