Box office stays buoyant as prices are raised

Russian cinema attendance is down compared with last year but box office remains healthy as exhibitors raise ticket prices, according to a report released by Russia’s Movie Research company.

The report shows that cinemagoing dropped by 11% in the first three months of 2009 compared with the same period last year, with 36.3 million admissions — 4.7 million fewer than in the first quarter of 2008.

But box office takings were up by 11% from 5.6 billion rubles ($180 million) to 6.1 billion rubles ($196 million) for the period as cinema operators pushed up the price of an average ticket from 135 rubles ($4.30) to 168 rubles ($5.40), Movie Research found.

Statistics released in March by movie industry authority Russian Film Business Today magazine, which compared the three-month period December 1, 2008 to March 1, 2009 with the same period a year before, painted a gloomier picture.

Admissions for the three months to March 1, 2009 were just more than 31 million, 21% fewer than the 39.5 million recorded for the comparable period in 2008.

Total box office in Russia and former Soviet CIS states was $165 million, the report said, down 23% on the period a year before, when $215 million was taken at the turnstiles.

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