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‘Irony’ breaks Russian B.O. record

Gross totals $50.3 million

Helmer Timur Bekmambetov’s sequel to cult Soviet film “Irony of Fate” has broken all Russian B.O. records, taking $50.3 million in its first four weeks of release, according to distributor 20th Century Fox CIS.

More than 9 million people saw “Irony of Fate — Continuation” at cinemas across Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Baltics between Dec. 21 and Jan. 17.

Box office gross was the biggest ever in Russia.

Between 30%-35% of all Russians have now seen the film, according to producer Konstantin Ernst, topper of Russian pubcaster the First Channel.

More successful than the previous B.O. record holder — First Channel’s fantasy adventure “Day Watch,” which last year took in nearly $32 million and 7.9 million viewers — and a bigger hit than any of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” pics, “Irony” cost just $5 million to make and about $4.5 million to advertise and promote.

The film picks up where Eldar Ryazanov’s 1975 hit, a kind of Russian “It’s A Wonderful Life,” left off , and it suggests that First Channel’s strategy to attract older auds beyond the most active cinemagoing demographic of 14-25 may be working.

Speaking in December at the film’s Moscow launch press conference, Ernst said on average just 6 million out of a potential audience of 28 million went to the movies in Russia. The challenge, he said, was to bring some of those missing 22 million viewers back.

Blanket coverage may also have helped “Irony” — it went out on a record-breaking 1,030 screens and still dominates theaters, 20th Century Fox CIS said.

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