Broadband TV and VOD have been available in Russia for several years, thanks to offerings from Internet and mobile phone providers like Stream and Vimpelcom. But this digital revolution has so far had little if any impact on more traditional cinematic exhibition of movies.
In the theatrical arena, out of a total of 1,500 modern cinema screens, Russia has only about 80 digital ones. Last year’s record-breaking $830 million box office was overwhelmingly from traditional print screenings.
But switching to digital could halve distribution costs for prints that suck up $60 million a year, says Oleg Berezin, head of St. Petersburg-based research company Nevafilm.
Traditional exhibitors remain sanguine about the prospects of building a digital cinema network in Russia anytime soon. Igor Ilchuk, general director of exhibition network Karo Film, which distributes Warner Bros. product, says going digital will happen only if enough Hollywood majors really insist on it.