China saves Russian 'Avengers' at the box office

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Russia In Review

The Russian movie Guardians, created to be the first country’s superhero film and the national analog of Marvel’s Avengers, flew near the $7 million mark in box office, adding $2.2 million to its total gross in its first weekend on Chinese screens.

The movie enjoyed sudden success in China, primarily due to a well-organized promotional campaign, raising the faith of the filmmakers that the Russian superhero franchise can be extended despite negative critical reception and discouraging results at the domestic box office.

The movie failed to repay itself domestically, collecting only $4.7 million in the Russian market, on a production budget totaling $6 million.

The film’s producer, Gevond Andreasyan, revealed that the movie has opened in nearly 10 countries by now, and in addition to China it has collected $2 million internationally, though this figure is not reflected in official statistical information yet.

In China, Guardians should collect $3 million in total, Andreasyan forecasted, saying that this is still not the end of the international distribution, as the movie has yet to be shown in the cinemas of Latin America.

All in all, the international market could raise the film’s total gross to nearly $10-11 million, which is considered a very good result for a Russian movie, even though spends on advertising and the promotional campaign are not known.

In this light, Russia’s Ministry of Culture probably will enhance efforts to get a special quota for Russian movies in the Chinese market. China has annual quotas for foreign movies shown in the country’s cinemas, and for the most part they traditionally apply to Hollywood films. But Russia wants to have a separate quota for its films, offering the same quota for Chinese movies shown on Russian screens. Negotiations on this issue are ongoing.

Bolshoi Shows Gloomy Fate of Russian Dancers

After a run of movies about the Second World War, space exploration and hockey, Russian directors have turned to the ballet, another thing that Russians consider part of the brand identity of their country.

The movie Bolshoi by Valery Todorovsky premiered on the country’s screens in early May and received mixed reviews from critics. The plot concerns a young, talented ballerina who makes it into the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow from a small and very poor provincial town located in the middle of nowhere. The main themes of the film are quite predictable and include the superhuman efforts of the dancers, their pain and suffering on the way to worldwide fame in roles like Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and Odette/Odile in Swan Lake that every dancer dreams about.

At least to some critics, it seems that the director has made a kind of anti-advertisement for the Russian ballet, contrasting young and passionate dancers and their old teachers, once world-famous, who have fallen into oblivion and now suffer from alcoholism, mental disorders and envy of the young dancers.

“You have nothing to worry about. Today you are prima donna and tomorrow you will be sent back to the third row of the corps de ballet,” one dancer tells another, which appears to be the main idea of the movie.

Culture Minister Calls for Movies on ‘Forgotten Heroes’

Russia’s Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky, who is well-known for brash claims and his crusade against Hollywood movies, called on Russian directors to shoot movies about the “forgotten heroes,” listing among such persons war commanders of past centuries and some controversial personalities of the Communist regime.

In particular, he would love to see a movie about Pavel Morozov, the “living illustration of the crystal honesty and integrity of the of the Communist child.” In the 1930s, during the so-called dekulakization that included arrests and executions of the better-off peasants and their families, Morozov made several denunciations of his family, including his own father.

Morozov was murdered under mysterious circumstances. Afterwards, his father, several of his uncles, his grandparents and several brothers were executed, in part because of his denunciations.

Medinsky suggested that the Russian cinema needs “ideological support” in the form of such “heroes,” because without them the nation turns into “inhabitants” without authentic culture. Russia’s directors have not commented on the initiative, but it is unlikely that a movie about Morozov would ever be produced, because in modern Russia he is viewed as a “national Judas” and his name is a generic term for the worst traitors.