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Paramount breaks ground in Russia

Distribution, production deal is first of its kind

MOSCOW — Russia’s booming film industry got a major boost Monday as Paramount Pictures Intl. and the country’s top indie shingle Central Partnership unveiled a groundbreaking distribution and production deal.

The strategic alliance with Moscow-based Central Partnership, founded in 1996, covers theatrical distribution of Paramount releases in Russia and regional markets and allows Paramount to participate in local production.

The deal — the first of its kind between a Russian indie and a major U.S. studio — also gives Paramount the option to distribute select Central Partnership productions internationally.

The alliance covers Russia and surrounding territories, excluding the Baltics and Ukraine, and comes into effect Jan. 1.

The Russian film industry is growing by around 15% annually and last year notched $565 million at the domestic box office.

“This is a steep change for Paramount in one of the fastest growing and most exciting markets internationally,” said Paramount Pictures Intl. prexy Andrew Cripps. “Central Partnership has positioned itself as one of the most impressive players locally in both distribution and production.

Ruben Dishdishyan, president and CEO of Central Partnership, which last year ranked among the top three distribs taking $85 million of the Russian B.O. (a 15% share of the market), called the Paramount deal a “key milestone” in Central’s history.

Paramount’s first release through Central Partnership will be director Sam Mendes’ “Revolutionary Road” at the end of January. Other movies lined up for next year include: DreamWorks Pictures’ “Hotel for Dogs,” by Thor Freudenthal; “Friday the 13th,” directed by Marcus Nispel and produced by Michael Bay; and “Watchmen,” based on the graphic novel and directed by Zack Snyder.

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