'Legend No. 17' sets a box-office record


Legend No. 17, a biography of the legendary hockey player Valery Kharlamov, has become the most successful Russian movie production in history.

According to official data from the Russian distributors, total grosses to date for director Nikolai Lebedev’s film have reached nearly US$28 million. No other Russian film has reached this level of success.

Until 2013, the absolute leader of the Russian box office was Vysotsky: Thank God I’m Alive by Peter Buslov, released in 2011. The saga of the famous actor, musician and poet gathered US$27.5 million.

Legend No. 17 producer Leonid Vereshchagin says the huge success of his film is a pleasant surprise. “When we made this movie, we thought about the production parameters and, of course, set a goal to attract more viewers. But the final result is impossible to precisely calculate. I think in our case a combination of factors worked. I think the audience missed the kind of movie where you can see yourself, see a hero you could look up to.”

Producer Alexander Rodnjansky believes the success of Legend No. 17 is dispelling the myth about the lack of demand for modern Russian films. “These results speak to the merit of the film itself, which happens infrequently. The marketing and advertising are very important parts of the film promotion. In the first weekend, people come driven by advertising and invited by the marketing efforts. After that, it is only word of mouth and the quality of the film. Legends No. 17’s fall of audience from week to week was miniscule. This film is the answer to all the endless talk on the question of what is hampering the box-office results of Russian films. In fact, only one thing: the lack of quality.”

Russia Supports Film Industry
State support of the Russian movie industry has reached a record level of 7 billion rubles (US$230 mil.), stated President Vladimir Putin at a recent government meeting. “The government does a lot to support the Russian cinema and people expect to see movies that are adequate to the needs of society,” Putin declared.

At the meeting dedicated to the development of cinema, the head of state noted that funding for the domestic film industry in 2000 amounted to 530 million rubles (US$17 mil.), and since that time the amount has increased by 12.5 times. “It is logical that people expect an adequate return,” Putin observed.

At the same time, he pointed out, “We must understand that to achieve the set goals is still very hard: Foreign films reinforce their position in the domestic box office, while the share of viewers that are interested in Russian films is equal to only 15.5 percent.”

In response, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medina proposed to reduce the cost of tickets for domestic films to make them more attractive for the Russian viewer. This should be achieved by the cancellation of the VAT tax for Russian cinemas, so the producers of movies could maintain a good level of return.

At the same time, the Culture Ministry has identified 12 priority issues where films will achieve special support from the state. Among them are the First and Second World Wars, the heroes of labor, and struggle with addiction.

Russian Theatre Performances Come to Cinemas
Several cinemas in the Russian distribution network Formula Kino in Moscow and St. Petersburg are broadcasting live performances of the Bolshoi Theatre. The first was the famous production of the ballet Romeo and Juliet, which took place on May 12.

In the future, such broadcasts will appear regularly and will cost 450 rubles (US$15). According to the representatives of the project, the concept is very attractive for the Russian viewer, as it is almost impossible to get tickets to Romeo and Juliet and the cost of tickets can reach 8,000 rubles (US$270).

The same ballet was shown in cinemas again on June 11. And after the significant success of the first broadcast, this time they will take place not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also in six other cities of Russia: Novosibirsk, Ryazan, Murmansk, Syktyvkar, Krasnodar and Voronezh. In these locations, the ticket price will be about 350 rubles (US$12).

Moscow's cinemas are already showing performances of the New York Metropolitan Opera, the National Theatre in London and the Netherlands Dance Theatre.

With this report,
FJI introduces a new recurring column from Russian correspondent Vladislav Vorotnikov.