In yet another transformation of the utilization of public funding for film in Russia, the Cinema Find will soon introduce pitching sessions — which won’t be open to the public.
The Russian Cinema Fund, which distributes the majority of the country’s annual $172 million in public money allocated for filmmakers, is showing greater transparency, ostensibly at the urging of the Kremlin. The Russian Cinema Fund falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Culture, responsible for arthouse, historic, and socially important projects, which recently led a similar initiative for transparency, but their pitching sessions are open.
Recently, Russia’s Culture Ministry refused to provide the film Dear Hans, Dear Pyotr, a controversial World War II movie, any monetary backing — despite being publicly funded by Germany. Representatives from Germany were confused and frustrated by Russia’s refusal. [The Hollywood Reporter]
The Smurfs 2 led the Russian box office last weekend, bringing in $5.4 million in its debut. The sequel performed 33% better than its predecessor and is expecting to outgross the $12.4 million by the original film in Russia.
The Wolverine scored a $3.3 million hold in its second weekend, bringing its cume to $17.7 million. The Conjuring posted similar numbers, earning $2 million in its second frame to take its total to $7 million.
A handful of other Hollywood releases have fared well in Russia. Monsters University has a $20.9 million cume, Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim has grossed $20 million, The Lone Ranger has brought in $15.8 million, and Turbo is currently posting a $13.1 million total.
The Wolverine posted a great start in Russia, bringing in $10.8 million over its opening weekend to lead a market that saw four new releases break into the top ten.
While Hugh Jackman’s clawed superhero walked away with the weekend’s biggest total, the low-budget thriller The Conjuring was able to squeeze more people into theaters with a $5,323 average across 604 locations. This led to a fantastic result for The Conjuring, which overcame stiff competition from the 2,044 sites playing The Wolverine to finish the weekend in second place with a $3.2 million debut.
R.I.P.D. tumbled 65% in its third frame to close out the weekend with a $2.1 million take. The film starring Ryan Reynolds has found new life in Russia, where it has already reached a successful $10.8 million total. Reynolds also stars in Turbo, another feature finding success in Russia after struggling at the North American box office. Turbo earned $2.1 million over its third weekend in release and reached a healthy $11.8 million cume in the market. Pacific Rim joins the list of Russian hits from North American flops, celebrating its fourth weekend with a $1 million gross. Pacific Rim is on the verge of a major milestone with a $19.5 million total in Russia.
Top Ten Films in Russia. July 27-29, 2013
Russia has been serving as a life-preserver for films coming off disastrous runs in North America. The country has helped rescue After Earth with $17 million, making it the second-most important market for M Night Shyamalan's father-son sci-fi vehicle behind China. The Lone Ranger has had a similarly successful run, bringing in $15.1 million since its day-and-date debut -miles ahead of Australia, the second-ranked market, where the Disney film has grossed $8.3 million. Pacific Rim has taken off in Russia with $16.8 million in two weeks, posting both the biggest hold and cumulative gross of the film's overseas release.
R.I.P.D. joined the list with a $6.2 million opening weekend, accounting for a market-leading $7,660 average across 810 screens. R.I.P.D. will need many more markets to close in on Universal's reported $130 million production budget for the film, a figure that does not factor in the costly global P&A expenses that typically add tens of millions of dollars to a film's overall budget. R.I.P.D. has grossed $22.7 million worldwide and is currently in release in ten overseas territories.
Turbo had a mixed result when taking into account its wide release in 2,068 screens. No film played as extensively as Turbo in Russia, but the animated film only averaged $1,962 per screen for a $4 million opening weekend, taking its cumulative total to $7.9 million including previews. The weekend gross places Turbo in third place, but its cumulative gross makes it the week's most successful new release.
The big exception to this trend also came after this weekend's box office results. White House Down floundered with a $1.9 million opening weekend across a modest 634 screens. Roland Emmerich's action flick placed second in per-screen average, however, bringing in an estimated $3,139 from each location.
The bottom half of the top ten in Russia includes three films in the country's $20 million club: World War Z ($24.7M), Now You See Me ($20.3M), and Monsters University ($20.6M).
Top 10 Films in Russia. July 19-21, 2013.
Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn (A Long and Happy Life), directed by Boris Khlebnikov, is representative of a new trend in Russian film-making: "ultra-realistic," as the director of the Russian Resurrection Film Festival Nicholas Maksymow christened it. As opposed to other Russian films which may focus on graphic violence and social realism, Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn tells the story of an ostensibly indistinct man who faces tribulations.
The 10th Russian Resurrection Film Festival is the largest festival of its kind outside of Russia. It started July 3 in Melbourne, Australia and concludes August 4 in Byron Bay, Australia. Aside from Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn, the festival is showing other Russian films from Anton's Right Here to Legend No. 17. [The Sydney Morning Herald]