Russia is fast embracing 3D movies as a crowd-pulling tool at the box office. Nearly 40% of the country’s modern screens are capable of screening 3D films.

Latest figures from film industry analysts NevaFilm shows that at the end of 2010, Russia had 2,436 screens in 868 cinemas. There were 942 digital screens in 530 cinemas, 938 of which were able to project 3D.

After a slight dip in 2009, Russian box office rebounded last year, and broke through the $1 billion barrier for the first time, up 43% on 2009.

Digital distribution is also on the rise: nearly half of all films now released in Russia are distributed in both 35mm and digital format.

While 3D releases in the country doubled last year from 15 to 32, this year saw the release of Russia’s first homegrown 3D draw, “The Very Best Movie 3D.”

Although the number of 3D releases is still under 10% of total releases, Russian distributors and exhibitors are beginning to experiment with the format: last year 25 alternative content programs were screened, seven of them live, including a video sequence of works by Russian artists including Marc Chagall and Wassily Kandinsky accompanied by works by Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich performed live at Moscow’s House of Music.

Tickets for 3D films are priced at a premium — on average 46% higher than 2D tickets, between $7 and $10 — and Russian cinemagoers are prepared to pay the extra: grosses for 3D films in Russia are on average 2.7 times higher per screen than those for the same film in 2D (2.4 times if figures for “Avatar” are excluded).