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Local 3D Horror Film 'Viy' Opens Big in Russia

Viy 3D
Courtesy of Event Film
"Viy"

An adaptation of a classic Gogol story, the film grossed $17 million over the weekend, continuing the early 2014 trend of local language fare topping the country's box office.

Local language fare is continuing its strong start to 2014 at the Russian box office as director Oleg Stephcehnko’s horror adaptation, Viy, is reportedly on track for a record opening for a 3D film in the country. 

Viy, which premiered across Russia on Thursday, had taken an estimated $17 million (600 million rubles) by Sunday night, producer Alexey Petrukhin said.

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A faithful adaptation of Nikolay Gogol's classic Russian horror story, starring an international cast that includes Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance as well as Russia’s Alexey Chadov, the film opened to $2.5 million, before adding $3.2 million Friday and $6 million Saturday.

Petrukhin told THR that forecasts for Sunday box office meant the film would likely surpass the opening weekend figure for Fedor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad last October. That film, a glossy 3D and Imax picture set during the historic clash between Red Army and Nazi forces in 1942, went on to become Russia's highest-grossing movie ever, with around $66 million. It took an additional $11 million in China. "We wanted the movie to be interesting and understandable to all Russian and overseas viewers," Bondarchuk said.   PHOTOS: 25 of the Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2014   Alexander Kulikov, another Viy producer, said: "I invested my soul into this project. It has it all: incredible adventures, powerful action, romance and intriguing mysteries and riddles."

The film, based on a novel written by Gogol, the classic Ukrainian-born Russian writer of the 1800s, was last adapted for the screen in Russia by Georgy Kropachev and Konstantin Ershov in 1967. The new film, which shot on location in the Czech Republic, reprises the classic story of an ancient evil force that is awoken deep in the bowels of a monastery after the death of a beautiful maiden.

The film’s early success seems to confirm a trend, after a strong start for Russian films at the local box office over the New Year holidays, when seasonal comedy Yolki 3 (Christmas Tree 3), produced by Timur Bekmambetov, took more than $32 million following its Dec. 26 release.