Report: 1st quarter Russian boxoffice hot as a samovar

Up 26% from same frame last year

Russia's boxoffice boom shows no sign of slowing, the latest turnstile figures from Moscow show.

Year-over-year figures released Wednesday for the first four months of the film industry year — which begins Nov. 30 — reveal that 2007 grosses had reached $174 million by March 25, up 26.4% from the same period last year, when $137.7 million had been spent at the boxoffice.

The figures, collected by industry magazine Russian Film Business Today, put Moscow-based independent producers/distributors Central Partnership/CP Classics in pole position with $46.4 million in grosses, representing a 26.7% market share for the year so far.

The figures include Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and other former Soviet republics but exclude Ukraine. Central Partnership released slightly updated figures Wednesday for its takings through April 1, claiming $53.5 million from 24 films released during the four-month period.

Second-place distributor 20th Century Fox CIS/Gemini took $43.7 million and captured 25.1% of the market from the release of 13 films, according to the Russian Film Business Today report.

Other top-ranked distributors are: Caro Premier ($11.9 million, 6.9%); Cascade ($11 million, 6.4%); Nashe Kino/Caro Prokat ($10.9 million, 6.3%); and Paradise ($10.4 million, 6%).

Alexander Semenov, publisher of Russian Film Business Today, said the figures suggest that boxoffice grosses in Russia for full-year 2007 could be higher than the current predictions of $550 million.

"The figures could be around $560 (million)-$570 million, but I doubt they will reach $600 million," Semenov said. "It depends on summer Hollywood releases — 'Spider-Man,' 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and the weather in Russia — rainy days, better gains."

He added that he expected little more in strong boxoffice returns from local product in the coming months.

Upcoming releases include such local product as "Gagarin's Grandson" and Hollywood fare including the Nicolas Cage starrer "Next."

In a separate announcement Wednesday, Central Partnership also said that the world premiere of renowned Russian director Kira Muratova's latest film, "Two in One," will take place at the sixth annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The film, produced by Ukraine's Sota Cinema Group, will open in Russia in August or September.
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