'Very Best Film' takes $19.5 million

MOSCOW — A Russian comedy that spoofs the country’s recent string of hit domestic movies broke all box office records to take $19.5 million in its first week on release, distrib Caroprokat said Wednesday.

“Very Best Film” (Sammi Luchi Film), which was produced by entertainment TV channel TNT, was released across Russia and surrounding former Soviet territories Jan. 24 on 702 copies and took $16.5 million it is first weekend alone.

The record-breaking average of more than $23,000 a copy marks a new high-tide mark for box office takings in Russia.

Caroprokat said latest figures Wednesday were $19.5 million and rising for takings across Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other parts of the region where the film is on release.

The spoof, which pokes fun at such local hits as fantasy thriller “Day Watch” and Afghan war drama “The 9th Company” and was produced in association with popular TNT show “Comedy Club,” has been seen by more than 3.5 million viewers so far.

The film was made on a budget of $5 million and promoted through a $5 million advertising campaign that has put posters on billboards, bus stops, metro stations throughout Russia, in addition to television plugs.

Artak Gasparyan, general producer, said: “We are very happy with the results. We worked with the most talented actors, scriptwriters and directors who trusted in the idea and had much know-how about the domestic market.”

Artur Dzhanibekyan, general producer for Comedy Club Production, paid tribute to Konstantin Ernst, head of Russia’s First Channel and the key figure behind such box office hits as “Irony of Fate — Continuation,” the sequel to a Soviet classic that has done more than $50 million of business since it opened Dec. 21.

“This was one of the best cinema promotion campaigns and we had great expert help from Konstantin Ernst.”

Observers say that the film’s phenomenal success may be attributed to its popularity with the key 14-25 demographic — the same as the bulk of the viewers of TNT, which airs a mix of domestic and dubbed imports of comedy, drama and reality shows.

Alexander Semenov, publisher of Russian Film Business Today, told Variety: “This is the best box office opening ever in Russia. It is just the sort of film the youngsters that watch TNT like.”

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