Sony Russia beefs up film slate

CTC-Media will spend up to $10 million in '08

MOSCOW — Sony’s Russian film affiliate has announced increased production plans for the next two years, and has partnered with local entertainment broadcaster holding CTC-Media.

Nasdaq-quoted CTC-Media, which is run by film and TV veteran Alexander Rodnyansky, will spend up to $10 million in 2008 on up to five film projects.

It’s partnering with Monumental Pictures, a Columbia TriStar-aligned shingle run by parent company Patton Media, which combines the interests of Viacom’s Shari Redstone, Michael Schlicht, who heads up Fox operations in Russia, and Paul Heth, who also runs local exhib Rising Star Media, itself a Viacom property.

Heth said Monumental would match, or exceed the CTC investment, according to local press reports.

Earlier this month, Heth told analysts that he expected Monumental to back four films in 2008, and a likely five the following year, predicting a partnership with at least two TV networks.

Potential titles touted included a local remake of “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

Monumental has released two pics in 2007, the romantic comedy “Waiting for a Miracle” and horror film “Trackman.” Both were made on lean budgets, and performed well at the B.O.

CTC’s Rodynansky has plenty of production experience behind him, and the TV station produced one of the most successful pics at the box office last year, the romantic comedy “Piter-FM,” which also had a distinctly thrifty budget.

“All of us at Monumental and our partners at Sony are very excited at the tremendous upside on the Russian market,” Heth told reporters recently.

Despite that optimism, he’s keen to distinguish the company’s future output from other projects in the rapidly growing Russian industry, where quantity is rarely backed up by consistent B.O. returns.

“We’re committed to mass entertainment, using the best talent, as well as Columbia TriStar’s experience, and to maximize all aspects of revenue, with a keen perspective on profit and loss margins,” Heth said.

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