Ambitious Russian 3D War Drama 'Stalingrad' Begins Filming

10:18 AM PST 08/25/2011 by Vladimir Kozlov
Victor Boyko/Getty Images
Fyodor Bondarchuk

UPDATED German actor August Diehl is involved with the project.

On Thursday, Russian director Fyodor Bondarchuk began shooting the $30 million 3D war drama Stalingrad, one of the most ambitious and expensive film projects in the Russian film industry over the last few years.

The movie is to be focused on the Battle of Stalingrad, a major battle of World War II, in which Soviet troops fought for control over the South Russian city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd), occupied by Nazi troops, and eventually took it in February 1943.

The movie’s budget is to be $30 million, of which $20 million was provided by the state-controled bank VTB and the rest is coming from the producers and as government support.

Stalingrad is being produced by Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergei Melkumov and Dmitri Rudovskiy, and the producers expect the movie to become a box office champion.

“I see a serious box office potential in the movie,” Rodnyansky was quoted as saying as the wire service RIA Novosti. “We have a very good script, on which we have worked for a long time. [The movie has] a strong story, massive battle scenes and, also, interesting and unusual characters.”

“Our financial expectations are $30 million to $35 million at the box office of Russia and CIS and another $30 million to $35 million in the rest of the world,” Rudovskiy told The Hollywood Reporter. “’Stalingrad’ has all chances of becoming one of [Russia’s] top grossing movies ever.”

Bondarchuk’s debut movie, 2005’s 9th Company, was one of the year’s top grossing movies, but his next movie, the two-part sci-fi saga “Inhabited Island”, released in 2009 didn’t perform as well as expected, which the producers attributed to the global economic downturn.

There have been reports in the Russian press that German actor Til Schweiger could be involved in the project. But eventually the role for which he was considered went to another German actor, August Diehl. Meanwhile, Steven Schklair has been hired as 3D producer.

The release of Stalingrad is scheduled for 2013 to be timed with the 70thanniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad.

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