Russian exhib boost drives admissions

Modern screen numbers to top 2,000 by 2010

Rapid growth in the Russian exhibition sector is driving a massive hike in admissions, according to U.K.-based Dodona Research.

The number of modern cinemas in Russia, with updated, multichannel sound, projection equipment and seating, has risen from just 105 six years ago to more than 1,000 last year. Dodona predicts the number of high-tech screens will top 2,000 by 2010.

The growth of multiplexes has been driven by a boom in retail development. Cinema construction has been concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg but is reaching other cities.

An emerging middle class that is predominately young and well educated is greeting the expansion with enthusiasm.

Admissions have grown more than eight-fold since 2000 and reached 91.8 million in 2005. Report forecasts 170 million admissions — worth $760 million at the box office — by 2010.

Russians’ growing appetite for cinema is being met by local filmmakers. Russian films captured 30% of box office biz in 2005; this figure could rise to as high as 50% by next year.

But piracy remains a big impediment to growth. “Optical disk plants are poorly monitored, different government agencies collude to their own profit, and those cases that struggle through the courts are rarely prosecuted in a meaningful way,” said report author Alisdair Ritchie.

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