Cinema upswing leads to big B.O. rise

'Reloaded,' 'Rings' duo help up Russian ducats

MOSCOW — Growth at the Russian box office continues at a stellar rate, with grosses for spring releases 34% above the equivalent period last year.

Figures cited by local trade publication Film Business for the period March 3-June 1 pegged grosses at $43.66 million vs. $32.61 million for 2002.

“The Matrix Reloaded” broke local records both for the number of prints (184) and for best launch ($3.85 million in r days). By June 8, pic’s total B.O. had hit $8.87 million.

The first film in franchise “The Lord of the Rings” took top place last year with $7.15 million; second installment “The Two Towers” has already earned $9.05 million after 130 days in release.

By June 1, 16 films had already earned more than $1 million at the B.O., compared with 23 pics for the whole of 2002.

“In 1996, for the number of renovated, Dolby-equipped screens in the country, Russia exceeded only Albania in Europe. By 2007, with a projected national total of around 1,000, we will be in the top five, after France, Germany, the U.K. and Italy. Russia is already No. 1 in Eastern Europe,” said Daniil Dondurei, editor of Film Art magazine.

But for local productions, the situation remains gloomy. U.S. titles accounted for 55% of all releases last year and garnered 87.5% of box office. In 2002, Russian films accounted for 16% of all releases but took in just 5.5% of the total B.O.

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