Two major Russian chains reject domestic film quota

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Russia In Review

Major Russian cinema chains Cinema Park and Formula Kino have refused to sign an agreement with government authorities on the establishment of a voluntary quota for exhibition of domestic films. The idea is to devote 30 to 50% of all sessions in cinemas to Russian films. The country’s Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky, believes this initiative will bolster the country’s film industry.

Formula Kino CEO Nikita Shegol countered that an artificial increase in the number of sessions in cinemas will not lead to a rise in attendance for domestic films. "The schedule of domestic films is unstable and they have unpredictable quality,” declared a joint statement of Cinema Park and Formula Kino. “For example, in the last week [of October,] Russian films got more than one-third of sessions across the country, and the average occupancy at these sessions amounted to five to seven percent, which clearly shows that this approach is not justified.”

Shegol noted that in the last week of October, Formula Kino gave a quarter of its sessions to the Russian film Warrior from Art Pictures and RTR, and occupancy of rooms didn’t exceed seven percent. Another domestic film, The End of a Beautiful Era by Stanislav Govorukhin, had an occupancy rate of four percent. By comparison, the same quarter of sessions for 20th Century Fox’s The Martian produced an average occupancy of 30 percent. 

As a result, representatives of major cinema chains believe that the introduction of quotas on sessions will not solve the problem of weak box office for Russian films, but will only hurt distributors and cinemas. According to the Russian Cinema Fund, in the first nine months of 2015, 19 percent of all sessions at Russian cinemas were given to Russian films, compared to the Ministry of Culture’s target of at least 30%. Several cinema chains approved the voluntary quotas, but experts don’t discount the idea that after the reaction of Cinema Park and Formula Kino, authorities may consider making these quotas compulsory.

Wii-2 to Become National Film in China

Russia’s Wii 2: Journey to China will acquire the status of a national film in China, due to the participation of country’s China Film Group in its creation, says a report of the Russian Ministry of Culture. As a result, the film will become one of the biggest joint projects Russian filmmakers have collaborated on in recent years.

Along with Jason Flemyng, who played the main role in the first part of the movie franchise, the film will assemble a number of other well-known Western actors, including Rutger Hauer and Charles Dance. There will also be a number of Chinese actors involved, including Jackie Chan, Sinthun Yao, and Chinese taekwondo champion Zhang Lanxin. Russia’s Oleg Stepchenko is directing.

"The Chinese side is now considering the film as one of the leading blockbusters and expects to collect several hundred million dollars on its showing in cinemas," said representative of the Russian Ministry of Culture Alexei Petrukhin. "We can disclose that the most active role in the making of Wii 2 will be taken by Jackie Chan and his company, Jackie Chan JCE, which will be responsible for filming of the Chinese unit.”

China has a strict system of quotas on showing of foreign films, while the status of “national movie” will let cinemas show it without any limits. The film is eyeing a summer 2016 premiere.

In the sequel, English traveler Jonathan Green is ordered by Russian Tsar Peter the Great to produce maps of the Far East and go on a journey that ultimately will lead him to China.

Russia, North Korea Team on Taekwondo Film

Russia and North Korea are planning to make a film about the history of the traditional Korean martial art of taekwondo, according to producer Yuri Mityushina.

The movie will tell the story of the appearance of this martial art and its dissemination across Russia. Representatives of the project note that taekwondo was well known in Russia at the time of the Russian Empire, so it is expected that the action of the film will take place in the 18th and 19th centuries.

“Russia and North Korea are aiming to shoot several joint films,” representatives of the project added. The details of the films, investments and time frames were not disclosed.

At the same time, Russian film industry pundits are dubious about the potential of this cooperative effort, since North Korea does not have a well-developed movie industry.

According to Russian industry expert Phillip Chernikov, “Some movies from North Korea have shown in Russian cinemas within some festivals and various series, most often with free attendance. In general, it is hard to imagine that these films would not only bring a profit, but even pay for themselves.”