New pact may boost actors’ fees in Russia

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The International Federation of Actors has requested that Russian lawmakers expedite the process for the ratification of the Beijing agreement, which stipulates that actors receive cash payments for any use of films with their participation, according to Denis Kiris, head of the country’s Independent Trade Union of Film and Theatre Actors.

Kiris said that today many Russian actors do not share in the profits of the movies they make, while the producers reap the benefits. Currently, all copyrights for films and all income belong to the producers. Only the film’s composer is entitled to receive a royalty of one percent of the box office, while all other parties involved in the creation of films such as the director, screenwriter, actors and stunt people receive only a one-time fee.

The country’s Ministry of Culture affirmed that Russia soon will ratify the Beijing agreement. Previously, experts at the Russian Filmmakers Union stated that the low fees for actors are a factor hampering the development of the cinema industry.

Kiris believes that when the Beijing agreement is ratified in Russia, producers are likely to optimize spending with a reduction of the one-time fee they are paying to the actors after a film is completed. He admits that the new initiative probably will not dramatically change the financial status of actors at the end of their careers.

Russia Prepares Avengers-style Feature
Russian film company Enjoy Movies has begun preparations for the shooting of The Defenders, an answer to the Hollywood blockbuster The Avengers. Representatives of the project say that the film will have a budget of US$10 million and the director will be Saric Andreassian, helmer of several successful Russian comedies.

The film will be set during the Cold War, when secret USSR organization "Patriot" creates a 15-person squad of superheroes–one person from each republic of the Soviet Union. The heroes enter into a confrontation with their former leader.

The main characters will be Asian Khan, expert in the martial arts and machetes; Caucasian Lehr, who is able to control the power of earth; Ukrainian Kseniya, who controls water, and Russian Arsus, who turns into a big bear with a machine gun when he gets angry. Production is scheduled to begin in May 2015.

Most pundits doubt the project’s potential for success. Alexander Semenov, chief editor of Russian Film Business magazine, believes there is “nothing wrong” with the idea of a squad of Russian superheroes, but the problem is the absence of tradition.

"Iron Man is so popular because people have grown with him,” Semenov observed. “You know when we should have done such things? Thirty or fifty years ago. That’s how you initiate the popularization of comic folk heroes. I do not see any reasons for this project to be turned into a franchise.”

Still, superhero movies are popular in Russia. For instance, the box office of The Avengers here was more than US$43 million, a record figure. The Defenders may still have potential to succeed.

Model Irina Shayk Makes Movie Debut
Famed Russian supermodel Irina Shayk will appear in Matt-on-Demand, a Russian-American romantic comedy with elements of fantasy. Hollywood star Harvey Keitel has agreed to play one of the supporting roles. Saric Andreassian is the likely director.

The film tells the story of Matt, a young, ambitious agent who works in New York. He takes possession of an old house whose landlady has disappeared without a trace. Spending the night there, Matt discovers that the house has the magical ability to teleport its owner to any point where somebody thinks about him. During his adventure, Matt meets a beautiful stranger (played by Shayk), who has a profound affect on his cynical outlook on life.