Local ‘Night’ eclipses Spidey in Russia

Pic distribbed on same level as H'w'd blockbusters

MOSCOW — Local helmer Timur Bekmambetov’s blockbuster “Night Watch” outperformed Spidey in Russia.

Pic notched up 102 million rubles ($3.50 million) in its first four days, beating the previous weekend’s four-day start of “Spider-Man 2,” which took $3.48 million. Produced by national TV station First Channel, the film, which closed the Moscow Film Festival June 27, went out on 307 prints — on a level with any Hollywood blockbuster in Russia.

“Night Watch” is distribbed by international player Gemini Film, which worked with First Channel on Vladimir Khotinenko’s submarine drama “72 Meters” earlier this year.

Promotional spend on “Night Watch” will be higher than the reported $500,000 figure that went to that film.

Based on the fantasy-thriller novels of Sergei Lukyanenko, the story is set in a contempo Moscow world in which the forces of darkness and light battle, controlling nighttime and daytime, respectively.

“We wanted to make a film based in Russian life on a level comparable to Hollywood,” said First Channel head Konstantin Ernst, who is also one of the film’s producers.

“Night Watch” is the first part of a project that will include two other features — “Day Watch,” scheduled for release before the end of the year, and “Dusk Watch” — as well as TV spinoffs.

Project was originally developed as a TV serial. Its budget grew to at least $3.5 million for the first two films before it became a trilogy.

It’s a good investment for First Channel, according to Ernst, given rising costs for acquiring Hollywood films for primetime slots in territory and the fact that the channel retains all ancillary rights.

Gemini is pursuing international deals on the pic. Before that, Ernst had been speculating about English-language remake rights as possibly of interest to Hollywood.

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