Rodnyansky to launch arthouse channel

Pay TV service has access to 1,500 titles

LONDON — One of Russia’s leading independent film producers is planning to launch a dedicated arthouse television channel for cable and satellite subscribers.

Alexander Rodnyansky, who took a 51% stake in arthouse distributor Cinema Without Frontiers earlier this year, believes there is a profitable niche market for intellectual and cultured film among Russia’s six million pay TV viewers.

With a library of 1,500 of the best international arthouse titles, Cinema Without Frontiers — which Rodnyansky co-owns with founder Sam Klebanov — has the potential to reach those Russians who value such film, Rodnyansky believes.

“With such a library I am sure we can monetize these titles at cinemas and on new platforms,” Rodnyansky told Variety.

“We have been approached by pay TV and digital operators and will be launching a channel later this year. There is an audience that wants to watch these films on television and is willing to pay a subscription,” Rodnyansky said.

Break even for such a channel would be around 150,000 subscribers although Rodnyansky thinks as many as two million viewers may sign up for the service, due to be on air by the end of the year.

Rodnyansky, who also owns Russia’s national film festival Kinotavr, which runs annually early June in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, said he planned to use the Cinema Without Frontiers brand more extensively in the future with “event” screenings of international arthouse film at the festival.

The challenge to getting more arthouse films into cinemas was one of distribution and venues, he added.

“We need to have a chain of cinemas that are interested in screening arthouse films. We need to create a community that wants to watch these films at specific venues, a bit like we had film clubs across the country in Soviet times,” Rodnyansky said.

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