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Russian Box Office Rises by 4.7%

Indie distribs fight for screens as number of releases climbs

Russia’s box office grew by 4.7% in the first half of this year to $696 million, compared with the same period last year, Unifrance’s Joel Chapron told an industry panel at the Locarno Film Festival Sunday.

Chapron added that admissions in Russia had only risen 0.4% to around 94.4 million as most of the rise in box office had come from a hike in ticket prices.

The number of movie released was 245, compared with 373 for the whole of last year. If this pace of film releases continued, then the total for this year will be 495, a rise of 30%.

Chapron said that the rise in releases was compounded by a shortage of screens to make it difficult for indie distribs to get their pics into theaters. There are 3,220 modern screens in Russia, of which only 71% are digitized. Forty per cent of Russians do not have access to a movie theater due to the size of the country and the lack of screens.

Chapron also reported that only 1% of those over the age of 50 go to the cinema, so the vast majority of cinemagoers were in the late teens and early twenties.
The market was dominated by five distribs, which released the pics of the Hollywood majors. They controlled 80% of the box office. In France, by comparison, the top five distribs only control 46% of the box office.

Only one Russian film was in the top 20, ice hockey player biopic “The Legend of No. 17.”

Chapron, who is Unifrance’s head of research and distributor relations for Central and Eastern Europe, was moderating the Locarno’s Step In session, which provides a forum for industry professionals to develop new strategies for the distribution, exhibition and sale of art-house movies.

This year the territory focus was on the Russian market. The panelists were distribution execs Alexandra Ternovskaya of Cinema Prestige, Nadezda Motina of Premium Film, Sergey Nekrasov of Volga Film and Daniel Goroshko of A-One Films, and exhibitor Mary Nazari of Pioner Cinema.

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