Helmer's shingle to release Christmas comedy 'Yolki'

Director and producer Timur Bekmambetov is moving into distribution.

His holiday season comedy “Yolki” — Russian for Christmas tree — will be distributed by Bazelevs Distribution, a new division of Bekmambetov’s Moscow-based Bazelevs Prods.

The film, set on New Year’s Eve and involving eight unrelated stories in 11 Russian cities, is due for release on 950 prints in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the Baltics on Dec. 16.

“We’re producing enough movies to create our own distribution outfit,” Bekmambetov told Daily Variety. “We do around three Russian-language films and two Hollywood projects — as director or producer — every year. That’s enough to create our own infrastructure.”

Bazelevs will work with 20th Century Fox Siberia on distribution across the far eastern parts of Russia but otherwise will go directly through booking agents with which the company already has relationships.

Bazelevs will also look for distribution deals in countries with large Russian-speaking populations, including the U.S., Germany and Israel.

The new distrib will not affect a deal with Sony and Disney to distribute Bekmambetov’s next Russian-language movie, “Vykrutasi,” starring Milla Jovovich and Konstantin Khabensky, in Russia in mid-February.

Bekmambetov, who is attached to direct and co-produce Fox’s 3D adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestseller “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” has worked with Universal and Russian pubcaster First Channel on earlier Bazelevs productions.

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