Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters set the tone for its successful international run when it bowed to a substantial $8.4 million last week in Russia. In its second week, the Jeremy Renner fairy tale film dipped 44% from its opening, making $4.75 million in 970 theaters, but still managed to cling to the #1 spot on the charts. Its total cume is now an estimated $15.6 million. The Russian debut of Steven Spielberg's Lincoln wasn't so fortunate, making just $290K across 408 screens. Faring better was the launch of Warner Bros.' Gangster Squad, starring Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling, which earned a strong $2.3 million from 844 screens.
Ang Lee's epic drama Life of Pi has earned $27.8 million in Russia in its first three weeks of release, its third-highest international gross by far. Pi opened to $10.7 million during the weekend of 1/3/13 -- nearly 38.7% of its take to date was earned over those first days -- though it dipped sharply in its third weekend with just $1.7 million in receipts, less than a quarter of the weekend's top-grosser Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Life of Pi crossed the $500 million global mark last Wednesday.
20th Century Fox's comedy Parental Guidance opened in 6th place in Russia this weekend with a mere $875K across 677 screens for a $1,293 per-screen average. Comedies are historically a tough bet in international markets and star Billy Crystal's international fame doesn't seem to have helped boost sales. Among other opening films, Parental Guidance was heavily defeated by the more action-oriented Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters ($8.4 million) and Django Unchained ($5.5 million), and narrowly topped the 3D re-release of Monsters Inc. ($849K) and the Wayan Brothers' slapstick horror comedy A Haunted House ($593K). Striking, however, is the per-screen success of A Haunted House. Across 241 screens, it managed a $2,462 per-screen average -- double the rate of Parental Guidance and Monsters Inc.
The website EuropeanMovies.Org has tipped Fedor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad as the most-anticipated Russian film of 2013. The war film is based on the diaries of soldiers who fought in the six-month Battle of Stalingrad on the bank of the Volga River from summer 1942 to spring 1943, during which nearly 2 million people lost their live. Bondarchuk, a legendary Russian actor and director, has described the film as a love story with a bloody backdrop, and the reportedly $30 million film is the first Russian production to be shot and released in 3D. In addition, Stalingrad will also be the country's first non-American IMAX release. Stalingrad is currently in post-production with an unscheduled 2013 launch.
Watch the trailer for Stalingrad
HBO Films has acquired Maxim Pozdorovkin and Mike Lerner's documentary Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for an unspecified amount. The film tracks the trial of the all-girl band who caused global headlines this summer when two members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were put on trial for shooting an anti-church music video inside of a Russian Orthodox cathedral and subsequently convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison. While Russian leader Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying the band, "got what it deserved," critics who attended the documentary's first screening this weekend at the film festival have deemed the film surprisingly fair-minded, with Screendaily's Anthony Kaufman writing, "Ironically, Pussy Riot's main target, President Putin, doesn't really come across as the bad guy." International distribution rights for Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer are still for sale.