Director Nikita Mikhalkov condemns Internet piracy

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Russia In Review

Internet piracy could leave the world without movies, music and books, claimed Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov, speaking at the World Intellectual Property Conference.

"With the supporting of piracy, we are creating a future without cinema, without music, without books—some sort of free culture,” he suggested, partly referring to the negative social feedback on recent efforts of the government to block the largest piracy websites.

Mikhalkov chairs the Russian Union of Right Holders, whose representatives previously stated that the Internet piracy situation in Russia is probably the worst in the world, since according to studies up to 78% of all Internet users in the country are downloading, watching or listening to illegal content regularly, causing losses of hundreds of millions dollars to Russian filmmakers and other artists.

Since 2012, Russia has taken numerous steps in the struggle against piracy, but the top country’s officials, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, see little progress being made.

“The current situation may not kill the global cinema industry, but it definitely hurts domestic filmmakers, as piracy often cuts their box office, which remains low even without this problem,” commented Russian cinema expert Phillip Chernikov.

“It is hard to say how the incomes of moviemakers could grow if government found a universal solution of the piracy issue, but some say it could jump nearly 60% or so. This would be important for domestic movies, since they finally would become moneymakers.”

In 2014, director Mikhalkov offered to enter a “piracy fee” in the amount of US$1 to $3 for each user of illegal content per year, proposing to use the extra funds to support domestic filmmakers. He estimated that the income from this initiative could add to the state budget and subsequently domestic cinema up to US$200 to $600 million per year. However, this suggestion has not been supported by authorities.

Top Russian Actor Eyed for Lullaby

One of Russia’s most famous actors, Constantine Khabensky, might get the role of the main character in a low-budget movie based on the novel Lullaby by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, reported several Russian media sources citing potential film director Andy Mingo.

The news raised a lot of interest among the Russian public, since Palahniuk’s books enjoy strong popularity in the post-Soviet Union space. Fans of the author on social media immediately started arguing whether Khabensky is right for the role.

However, it could be safety said that the Lullaby movie will not be shown on Russian screens, since the book includes themes of necrophilia, gender identity and other elements the country’s Ministry of Culture would not welcome.

The novel tells the story of a detective investigating the mysterious murder of children. In the process, he discovers a link between the crimes and mysterious lullaby that kills all who hear it.

Khabensky is best known in the West for starring in the films Night Watch and Day Watch as the lead character, Anton Gorodetsky. He also has experience working in the Hollywood movies Wanted (by the director of Night Watch, Timur Bekmambetov) and World War Z.

Disney Turns to Russian Myths for New Movie

The Russian office of Walt Disney Pictures is cooperating with local film company Yellow, Black & White to shoot a movie called Last One Bogatyr, according to representatives of the project. “Bogatyr” in Russia is the ancient analogue of a medieval knight. He is an epic character, a hero in Russian legends, and defender of Russia from its enemies in numerous country myths.

The movie should be released by autumn of 2017, and the partners are also negotiating to make it in the IMAX format. The budget is still not known, but according to Disney’s CEO in Russia, Marina Zhigalov-Ozkan, “It should be big and rich with special effects.”

"This is a unique opportunity for our industry to work with one of the largest studios in the world and make the product interesting, not only here [in Russia] but also abroad. We expect that it will become a major cinema event next year,” said Edward Iloyan, the general producer of Yellow, Black & White.