As with the rest of the world, Russia’s independent distributors are being hit hard by the global economic downturn.
Although the crisis is impacting indie markets in television the most — where acquisition budgets have been slashed as ad revs have dipped and are predicted to drop even further — box office expectations have also been trimmed back.
Russia and the surrounding Confederation of Independent States (CIS) posted a record-breaking $830 million B.O. in 2008, a 47% increase on 2007, but a much more modest growth is expected in 2009, and indie distributors are likely to find it an uphill struggle as exhibitors opt for “safer” Hollywood or domestic blockbusters to pull auds in.
“Independent distributors are reducing the number of films they buy and exhibiting only those films that (they know may) do well,” says Armen Dishdishian, VP of international relations for Russian indie distribution and production shingle Central Partnership. “A year ago, distributors could rely on television and DVD sales. Today Russian TV channels are hardly buying any Western indie films, and DVD sales have dropped by 30% during the economic crisis. That is why now there is interest only in those films that will be profitable in exhibition alone. And that means that the prices for indie films must come down threefold. The habit of buying films in packages has ground to a halt.”
Total 2008 box office: $830 million
Total 2008 releases: 355
Biggest indie hit: “Irony of Fate – the Sequel” $49.9 million
Local breakout for 2009: “Inhabited Island: Fight”
- “Taras Bulba” (Central Partnership)
- “Three Monkeys” (Kino Bez Granits)
- “Make It Happen” (West)
- “Milk” (Paradise)
- “17 Again” (Caro Premier)