Disney hopes to launch channel in Russia

Planning to produce two to three theatrical films a year

MOSCOW -- The Mouse House hopes to launch the Russian version of Disney Channel this year and plans to produce two to three theatrical movies a year for the local market.

"We are planning to follow upon the success of our first movie for the Russian market, 'The Book of Masters,' further developing local film production," said Marina Zhigalova-Ozkan, general director of Disney CIS. "We would like to try different genres, like fantasy, action and films for teenagers, but all our films will definitely be targeted toward family audiences."

Disney's $8 million fairy-tale story "Masters," produced in cooperation with the local film company TriTe, was released in the fall, grossing $13 million, and though it was primarily intended for Russian audiences, the movie won several prizes at international movie festivals.

"The most recent award was the best foreign-language feature film at the 15th annual International Family Film Festival Los Angeles," Zhigalova-Ozkan said. "We're discussing potential theatrical, TV and DVD releases of the movie in other countries where Disney operates: India, Latin America and several European countries. For example, 'The Book of Masters' will soon be shown in Italy on TV."

Last year, Russia's anti-monopoly agency vetoed Disney's attempt to buy the Russian station Media One TV, which was a sign of the government's unwillingness to allow major foreign players to enter the local TV industry. But Disney remains determined to establish a presence in Russian TV.

"Now we're developing Jetix TV channel and have filed documents for Disney Channel registration on cable in Russia," Zhigalova-Ozkan said. "The programming will include both international and local content, and we plan to gradually increase the number of local programs."
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