‘Lightning’ tempts pirates

Russians plan early DVD release for sci-fi hit

Russian sci-fi blockbuster “Black Lightning” ­ — a sort of Slavic ‘Transformers-meets-Batman’ about a car-mad student who supertunes an old Soviet sedan and runs up against the criminal underground — looks set to be a box office hit in Russia and could make waves in the rest of the world as well.

A Universal co-production with Russian producer-director Timur Bekmambetov (“Night Watch,” “Wanted”), the pic took nearly $10 million ($9.7 million) in its first weekend after a Dec. 31 release on 802 screens in Russia and the Baltics, putting it in second place behind sci-fi hit “Avatar” which took just over $13.7 million in the Russian and CIS market after opening Dec. 24.

Fearing that the popularity of the film will make it a top target for piracy, Universal’s Russian office has implemented an unprecedented anti-piracy campaign.

The company is monitoring the Russian Internet to detect illegal downloads of the movie and plans an early release of DVD and Blu-ray versions of the picture in February.

The Russian-language film, which has echoes of Bekmambetov’s slick helming style in “Wanted” in its car chase sequences, directed by Alexander Voytinsky, stars Gregory Dobrygin as the car-tuning expert student and well-known local actors such as Sergei Garmash.

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