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War drama conquers Russian B.O.

Second weekend grosses fell just 14.6%

MOSCOW — Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Afghan war drama “9th Company” marched into Russian B.O. record books Oct. 17, taking in nearly $21 million during its first 18 days. Pic was released on 422 prints, a record itself, and sold 5.2 million tickets.

Industryites predict pic could scoop up to $9 million more during release, given strong word of mouth. B.O. for its second weekend fell just 14.6%.

“9th Company” took over the lead in the all-time B.O. chart from another native pic, helmer Djanik Faisiyev’s “The Turkish Gambit,” which scored nearly $19.3 million in the spring. Both pics were released by local player Gemini Film Intl., which also reps Fox product in Russia.

The success of Bondarchuk’s pic looks more impressive still as it didn’t receive the subsidized blanket TV ad support of “Gambit” — the latter produced by leading national TV station Channel One.

Budget was $9 million, high by local standards, but Bondarchuk and his producers might be proving the old adage that you have to spend money to make money.

Pic’s shoot, lensed in Crimea and Uzbekistan, came in at more than $4 million, with sound work completed at Britain’s Pinewood studios. It was only the second Russian pic to work at that facility — the first was the 1970 war epic “Waterloo” from Sergei Bondarchuk, father of “9th Company” helmer Fyodor.

Gemini will rep the film internationally, as it did with last year’s Russian B.O. leader Timur Bekmambetov’s “Night Watch,” which sold to Fox Searchlight.

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