Russia is becoming an increasingly hard sell for independent movies.

In a country where box office broke through the $1 billion barrier last year, local film’s share of that coin has plunged from 30% five years ago to just 13% now. Half-year figures this year show box office at $603 million, up 8% on the same period in 2010, suggesting Russia is on course for another billion-dollar-plus year. Most of the box office is taken by Hollywood blockbusters.

The figures reflect an increase in ticket prices admission are slightly up by 1.7%, according to St. Petersburg-based Nevafilm Research.

“Russian audiences have lost faith in the brand of Russian movies,” says local producer Anatoly Maksimov.

He is banking on the success of the release of his film (produced in association with Paul Heth and Sony Picture Russia topper Michael Schlicht’s company Monumental Pictures) “Vysotsky: Thank God I’m Alive!”

It’s a $12 million Russian-language biopic about a renowned Soviet-era singer, actor and playwright Vladimir Vysotsky, who became an emblem for a generation stymied by the dreary days of the 1970s.

It’s slated for a 1,500-print Dec. 1 release with a major P&A campaign.

Indie imports find it a tough market, although “The Nutcracker in 3D” took in $13.7 million, while “The Tourist” made $18.9 million.

Number of screens: 2,528
Number of 3D screens: 1,181
Top indie distribs and box office*: Central Partnership ($100 million); Paradise ($30 million); Caro Premier/Caro Prokat ($28.49 million); Nashe Kino ($24.95 million); Bazelevs ($22.8 million)
Typical minimum guarantee paid: Not available
Top 5 indie films: “Six Degrees of Separation” ($22.8 million); “How Not to Rescue a Princess” ($19 million); “The Tourist” ($18.9 million); “The Nutcracker in 3D” ($13.7 million); “Lucky Trouble” ($12.4 million)
Box office share split between distributors and exhibitors: 50/50
Upcoming indie pickups: “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” “Red State,” “The Thing,” “Everything Must Go,” “Immortals”
* half-year figures only