Russian producer proposes network of social cinemas

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Russia In Review

The struggle to give a competitive advantage to domestic movies continues in Russia. Despite subsidies, tax benefits and various other forms of support, the Russian cinema is losing the fight against foreign films both inside and outside its borders.

A new initiative in this area has been proposed by film producer Oleg Teterin, who sent a letter to Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky detailing his plans to create a network of so-called social cinemas primarily in small and medium-sized cities, with a priority of showing Russian movies.

Teterin proposed an allocation of 1.5 billion rubles (US$30 million). This would comprise 20% of the total annual funds allocated by the Russian government for the support of domestic cinema. The amount would ensure the construction of 100 cinemas within the coming six months.

According to Teterin, some movie producers often wind up in the red, not because of the poor quality of their films or a lack of advertising, but due to the small number of bookings at Russian cinemas and strong competition from Hollywood movies. His proposed social network would provide an additional 1,000 bookings for every domestic film, which should increase the average box office of domestic movies by at least 30%, he said.

In addition, Teterin stated that if the project is successful, within a couple of years the network would be able to venture outside Russia, to promote Russian movies in foreign countries. All cinemas would be constructed with the patented technology “Teterin Film.”

"We have studied the world experience and technology and we have created technology which no one in the world is able to reproduce without violation of our copyrights,” Teterin said. “We plan to sell licenses for the construction of cinemas, and later combine everything under one management company. This will allow us to create the first international cinema network which can be used for the promoting of domestic content abroad.”

European Company Pumps Millions into Russian Studio

The Russian government has officially approved the investment of US$500 million by Luxembourg-based Altera Park Company into the major film studio Mosfilm, confirming the biggest deal in the country’s film industry in recent years.

It is reported that the investor will finance the design and construction of a cinema and concert complex totaling 7,000 square meters, with two film studios of 6,000 square meters each and storage facilities 15.5 square meters in size. In the future, these facilities will be transferred to the ownership of the State.

Dmitry Kupov, head of Russian film studio Open Cinema, noted that this decision affects the whole industry. “It is clear evidence that the cinema remains an important tool for government communication with society,” he stated.

It is expected that the deal will let Mosfilm expand its partnership with foreign filmmakers to create movies in English for the international audience. Previously, British newspaper The Guardian predicted that Mosfilm will make inroads in Hollywood with large investments and ambitious plans.

"However, so far it is too early to talk about the possible entrance of Mosfilm’s films into the market, for example the U.S. To go to Hollywood and the world, the company needs to have experience in making films in the global language, which is English,” Kupov opined.

Mosfilm is the biggest and oldest Russian film studio, created in 1924. The production capacity of the studio today is nearly 100 movies per year.

CGI Film Combines Man and Baby

A unique film project has launched in Russia, with director Alexander Andryushchenko recruiting top domestic specialists for the fantasy movie Mate, in which the main protagonist will be a fully computer-generated child with the face of actor Sergey Garmash. The character will be created with the use of motion capture and facial retargeting, which so far has been rarely used in Russia.

The plot centers on policeman Major Khromov (Sergei Garmash), who has been transferred into the body of a one-year-old baby by a witch’s curse. Despite this strange occurrence, he continues to fight crime and to hunt for a Chinese triad that has settled in Vladivostok. The father of the baby becomes a “partner” of Major Chromov and helps him complete the special operation to capture the leader of the mob, the only way to remove the curse.

During the development of exclusive technology for the film, CGI experts completely scanned the skeleton and muscular system of a baby. The facial expression and gait of actor Garmash will then be transferred to the body of the child.