Russian producer launches AR Films

Rodnyansky aims to create 'new business model'

The producer behind Russia’s most expensive movie ever — the two-part sci-fi blockbuster “Inhabited Island” that came in at nearly $40 million — has launched a new company with a broad, wide-ranging Hollywood studio-style business credo.

Alexander Rodnyansky, who is president of CTC Media, Russia’s leading commercial television broadcaster and co-owner of the Kinotavr national film festival, hopes AR Films will help create “a new business model.”

Combining a film library, a “boutique” fund for local arthouse and mainstream projects, production of high-end television series, involvement in international co-productions, finance and development functions, with an eye toward acquisition of studio facilities in Russia and internationally, AF Films will fulfill Rodnyansky’s vision for the creation of a Hollywood-style majors system in Russia.

“There is a lot of money in the Russian economy; we still have companies looking for opportunities. The problem is we are not able to show financial performance. We have no industry business model,” Rodnyansky told Variety.

“My aim is to bring everyone together — the state, private equity, distributors and exhibitors who can together develop a solid and proper business model that can make the dream come true. Otherwise in Russia we shall always have a chaotic model that is not economically oriented.”

Launched earlier this month following the release of the second part of “Inhabited Island,” AR Films will draw upon Rodnyansky’s experience in both the business and creative side of film and television.

The founder of Kiev’s Studio 1+1 television channel, Rodnyansky moved to Moscow to head up CTC channel before moving into film production.

Creating a business model in television from scratch was relatively straightforward, he said, noting that there was a consumer market, an advertising market and a product — television content — that had direct contact with its audience.

The Russian film industry remains hampered, he believes, by insufficient outlets — just 700 modern cinemas with some 1,700 screens.

In a country where last year there were 380 releases (nearly 80 of which were local productions), few films survive more than two weeks on general release and first weekend box office figures effectively make or break a film.

“There are 5 million regular moviegoers — dominated by 14- to 24-year-olds — which means successful movies are dominated by a narrow range of commercial genres such as comedies, sci-fi or dramas,” said Rodnyansky.

Developing a network of digital cinemas could help broaden the exhibition base, making room for a wider ranger of films and the 20- to 30-week-long arthouse release model used in some markets in Europe.

Creating a business model that combined funding, development, film and television production could contribute to the creation of a more mature Russian film industry, Rodnyansky said.

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