‘Pirates’ steals Russian box office

Film was top grossing film for 2007

MOSCOW — Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” was feted as Russia’s top grossing movie of 2007 at Monday’s 11th Blockbuster awards ceremony.

The Buena Vista/Sony Pictures Russia release grossed $30.85 million in Russia and former Soviet territories during another record-breaking year when regional box office topped $565 million.

More than 300 of Russia’s producers and distributors lauded another boom year at the only local awards based purely on the commercial business a film does.

“Pirates” didn’t beat last year’s top hitter, Russian sci-fi thriller “Day Watch” (Dnevnoi Dozor), which took more than $34 million. But that failed to dampen the mood of industry executives in a market where the annual B.O is expected to be near $1 billion by 2010.

Distributor of the year was UPI, which accounted for just under $96 million of the 2007 B.O., representing almost $1 out of every $5 spent at the ticket turnstile in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other CIS former Soviet territories.

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Top grossing Hollywood studio in Russia was Paramount/DreamWorks with $65.4 million ticket sales; Paramount international theatrical boss Andrew Cripps relayed his thanks to the execs who put in the leg work to help achieve that figure in a video link screened at the awards, hosted at the Renaissance Moscow Hotel.

Producer of the year was Ruben Dishdishian, the Armenian-born founder of Moscow production, sales and distribution shingle Central Partnership.

Founded ten years ago, Central Partnership’s fantasy adventure epic “Wolfhound” directed by Nikolai Lebedev was the biggest-grossing Russian-made film last year, taking just over $20 million.

Dishdishian produced “Mermaid,” directed by Anna Melikyan, who won best dramatic director for the pic at Sundance.

In home entertainment sales Universal Pictures Intl. took top honors for DVD sales of Zack Snyder’s Greek Spartan battle spectacular “300” and also scooped the best DVD distributor award.

Alexander Semenov, publisher of Russian Film Business Today and founder of the awards said: “Russian box office is growing because more people are going to see films not once or twice but three or four times. Box office this year could reach between $750 million and $800 million but everything depends on the quality of films on release, particularly those from the Hollywood majors.”