Russia Decides Not to Restrict Foreign Films

Vladimir Medinsky

Culture minister Vladimir Medinsky says, after reviewing the performance of local films at the box office, that the Russian film industry "is competitive enough without minimum quotas for local films."

Russia's culture ministry has decided the country doesn't need to restrict the number of foreign films released in the country, even though the proportion of local films at the box office didn't go up significantly in 2014.

"The Russian film industry has proven that it is competitive enough without minimum quotas for local films," culture minister Vladimir Medinsky told a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday, referring to the idea of introducing a mandatory minimum share of local releases, thereby restricting the number of foreign releases.

Medinsky added that in the current unfavorable economic conditions, any restrictions on foreign releases would backfire and hurt movie theaters.

Plans for restrictions were heavily discussed last year, until the culture ministry said it wasn't a big fan of the idea but would revisit it early in 2015, based on Russian movies' box office performance. Some reports mentioned a figure of 20 percent of the total box office that the government wanted the local share to reach.

Eventually, local films' share fell short of that benchmark, reaching only 18.9 percent of the total box office, slightly up from 18.2 percent in 2013, but the overall economic downturn apparently forced the government to avoid any drastic steps.

Medinsky's statement means that the issue won't be revisited at least through the end of this year.

Still, the culture ministry has obtained a new instrument allowing it to give preferences to local releases over Hollywood movies. Earlier this year, it announced that from now on it will have the authority to set release dates for all movies, making sure that priority Russian releases don't compete with Hollywood films.

To avoid a mandatory release date change, for instance, Disney moved up the Russian release date of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

 

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