Russia

PREDICTION: 'Oz' to Stay On Top, 'Mama' to Move Up to #2 on March 15, 2013

MAMA.jpgOz: The Great and Powerful is predicted to earn just over $5 million at the Russian box office in its second weekend of release, more than enough for the big budget Disney extravaganza to keep its hold at the top of the charts. But there could be some unexpected movement below as the Jessica Chastain ghost chiller Mama could capitalize on its strong per-screen showing last weekend to climb to #2 at the box office, displacing the raunchy booze comedy 21 and Over. Last week, the two films were within $300K of each other, with 21 taking the advantage, and 21 continues to have more screens in more theaters. But Mama not only has the better reviews -- not that that always means anything -- it also bested 21 at the per-screen haul by an average of nearly $1,500. With no other major contenders elbowing into the fray, this could be Chastain's weekend.

Russia Greenlights Its Own 'Social Network' on March 14, 2013

yandex.jpgHow do you say "Google" in Russian? Yandex. The Yandex search engine is the most-visited site in Russia and the fourth-largest search engine around the world with over 50.5 million unique users a day, as the locally developed program has a more sophisticated understanding of the Russian language and inflection than its Silicon Valley competitor. And now, Yandex is getting its own feature film, Startup, which spans from 1995 -- shortly after the fall of Communism -- to the present, and will focus on the friendship between Yandex's two main developers, Arkady Volozh and Ilya Segalovich. The film will cost just $2 million compared to the $40 million invested in David Fincher's The Social Network, and producer Irina Smolko stressed that there are other individual reasons why this story needs to be told. "Russia has its own mentality, their understanding of life and attitude to success. And it is fully reflected in our characters," said Smolko. "These people are not just born, and suddenly became so smart. These are people who in the '90s suffered ridicule, they were told 'If you're so smart, show where your money is.' Is this similar to what happened in the U.S.? I would say that this is a film about a time when art and consciousness conceived the most innovative, interesting people in Russia."

BOX OFFICE ACTUALS: 'Oz' Dwarfs Competition, But '21' and 'Mama' Post Solid Takes on March 12, 2013

With a $14.7 million haul -- a tremendous take in an otherwise modest year at the Russian box office -- Oz: The Great and Powerful made nearly 6 times the haul of each of its two closest rivals on the charts. But the crazy college comedy 21 and Over and the Jessica Chastain ghost thriller Mama both launched to a more-than $2.5 million take, respectable numbers for films that barely got a big marketing push in the States. In a slower weekend, either might have had a fighting chance at claiming the top spot on the charts. The test now will be to see if they have legs -- but as both boasted budgets that were a mere fraction of Oz's estimated $300 million cost, 21 and Up and Mama could be on track to be the more profitable films. Full box office chart below.

RANK

TITLE

GROSS

TOTAL

WEEKS

1

Oz: The Great and Powerful

$14.7M

$14.7M

1

2

21 and Over

$2.9M

$2.9M

1

3

Mama

$2.6M

$2.6M

1

4

What's Happening Men

$2.5M

$8.4M

2

5

Nevermind the Girl

$2.1M

$2.1M

1

6

Metro

$1.2M

$10.9M

3

7

Dyatlov Pass Mystery

$1.0M

$4.3M

3

8

Escape From Planet Earth

$1.0M

$2.4M

3

9

Gambit

$640K

$640K

1

10

Guardians

$394K

$394K

1

FIRST NUMBERS: 'Oz' Opening Weekend Should Surge Past $15 Million on March 10, 2013

oz_shot.jpgNumbers are still coming in, but Oz: The Great and Powerful is averaging just under $5 million per day in Russia over the weekend, which when combined with the nearly $2 million it made during Thursday shows should drive the total opening haul past $15 million. That alone is almost enough to rank it as one of the country's top 20 grossers of the year. (Last year's #20, Brave, made a total of $16.1 million.) Expectations for Oz are higher, but the film seems likely to follow the arc of last summer's Men in Black III, which launched to $16.9 million in Russia and went on to make a total of $36.5 million.

Russian Crew in California Shooting Historical Epic 'Fort Ross' on March 09, 2013

fort_ross.jpgThe San Francisco Chronicle reports that a Russian film crew has traveled to California's Fort Ross, roughly 90 minutes north of San Francisco, to shoot an expensive time travel epic typing together the little-explored histories of Russia and the fledgling United States in the early 1800s. At the time, Russia still controlled much of Alaska -- the territory's gold rush was still decades away -- and seemed as though the Tzar would be a permanent presence in North America. Fort Ross follows a Russian film crew who gets sent back in time to 1820 where they must help a Russian settlement and a local Indian tribe defend themselves against pirates. Director Yuri Moroz (Dark World) and writer Dimitri Poletaev built a replica of the Fort in Russia, but flew to California to film scenes near the Golden Gate bridge. "The factual part is all true," says Poletaev, adding, "Parts of it will look like Indiana Jones." 


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