'Krakatuk' dispute delays first Amedia pic

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MOSCOW -- Production house Amedia has pulled the plug on a distribution deal for its first cinematic release after a row with UPI Russia over the number of cinemas 3-D cartoon "Krakatuk" should open in.

Amedia, which until now has produced dramas and serials for television, had scheduled the 3-D animated children's adventure for a late-October release.

A $2 million advertising and promotion campaign was already under way in St. Petersburg when it clashed with distributors UPI Russia over the number of prints that should be released.

Amedia wanted the $3 million-budgeted film, based on a German fairytale about a magic nut, to have a wide release of about 450-500 copies; UPI Russia felt 300 was a more commercially realistic number.

"It boiled down to a disagreement over the commercial potential of the film," UPI Russia general director Yevgeny Beginin said in an interview Friday(Sept 28).

"We wanted 300 copies, and they wanted more. We had been discussing this issue for some time," he said. "They clearly felt it was not right to continue with us."

Natalia Lazareva, director of film distribution at Amedia, confirmed the decision to suspend cooperation with UPI Russia was based on a difference of opinion over the film's commercial potential.

"We believe the film's potential is far greater than UPI thought," Lazareva said.

The eleventh hour dispute meant that about 200 advertising posters had already gone up on the St. Petersburg metro but Amedia was able to stop outdoor ads planned for Moscow, she said.

A television advertising campaign scheduled to begin Oct. 10 has now been scrapped and the film's release put back to late March.

One option for release under consideration is for Amedia to set up its own distribution company, Lazareva said.

Industry watchers in Moscow said Friday that distributing its own films could save Amedia 10%-15% of distribution costs, though it would have to survive in a very competitive market.

Alexander Semenov, publisher of Russia weekly film journal Russian Film Business Today, said: "If you have good product, you will be fine; but if you are a big company but don't have good product, nothing will help you."
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