LONDON — The Russian culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, is looking to take control of the theatrical release of movies in a bid to protect local films.
Medinsky said Wednesday the measure would ensure that Russian film were able to recoup their budgets, according to press reports. Where there was a clash of release dates for local films and Hollywood movies, the latter would be forced to make way.
Medinsky said that distributors should negotiate between themselves to make sure that the release of foreign pics did not conflict with the release of a local film.
Last year, Russian films took 17% of the country’s gross, which was RUR46.3 billion ($1.26 billion), according to Rentrak.
Films have to seek an exhibition license from the government to secure a release. Now the culture ministry is looking to get the power to specify a release date.
However, this is not a done deal. The culture ministry has submitted a request for the extension of its powers to the justice ministry, which will consider the proposal.
Medinsky said he would not fight for all Russian films, however. “We will set financial, political or ideological priorities,” he said.
One local film he is unlikely to defend is Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner “Leviathan,” even though the culture ministry helped fund the film. Medinsky alleged last week that Andrei Zvyagintsev’s movie had exploited anti-Russian sentiment abroad by portraying the country in a negative light. The film is to receive its official, wide release in Russia on Feb. 5. It had a limited theatrical release in St. Petersburg for one week last year, starting on Sept. 14.