Russian box office surges 8%

No local films in top 10 for first time in decade

MOSCOW

Russian box office receipts were up 8% to $1.24 billion in 2012 as cinema continued to defy the global recession.

Hollywood maintained its dominance of the world’s fifth biggest movie market with Fox’s “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” grossing $50 million to take top place and, for the first time in a decade, not a single Russian film in the top 10.

Second biggest B.O. earner was “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” with $49.3 million, followed by “The Avengers” with $43.6 million. “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” ($42.6 million) and “Men in Black 3” ($36.5 million) took fourth and fifth place.

Top ranking Russian movie was Nashe Kino’s toon “Ivan Tsarevich and the Gray Wolf” with $20.7 million, followed by director Dmitriy Dyachenko’s romcom “What Men Still Talk About” ($13.8 million) and Roman Prygunov’s dramedy “Soulless” ($13.3 million), according to figures collated by industry weekly Russian Cinema Today.

The share for local-language pics, with 74 releases achieving $187 million, was 15% — up on 2011’s 11%.

However, cultural policymakers have little to cheer about.

“Even though the market share was slightly up the fact there were no local films in the top 10 is a very poor sign,” Alexander Semenov, publisher of Russian Cinema Today, told Variety.

The 8% increase in overall B.O. take was a reasonable result given the challenging economic conditions in Russia, Semenov said, and he predicted B.O. would grow by between 10% and 12% in 2013.

“The days when we saw year-on-year increases of 20% or 30% are gone,” he added.

If Russian policymakers and producers want to increase the share of local film, they need to ensure more quality films enter the market, he said. “It is not a question of quantity, but of quality.”

Top distributor for a second consecutive year was Disney-Sony partnership WDSSPR, which released films that grossed $312 million, taking a 28% market share.

Local-language films may fare better in 2013 if first fortnight figures are anything to go by, with a busy New Year holiday period. Nashe Kino’s animation “Three Warriors on Distant Shores,” made in a similar style to “Ivan Tsarevich,” raked in nearly $30 million in the period.

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