Russia: Local Films' Summer Box-Office Share Up Over 2012, Still Low

"Despicable Me 2"
"Despicable Me 2"
 Universal Pictures

MOSCOW -- The proportion of local movies at the Russian box office fell drastically during the past summer, despite the government's attempts to boost Russian films' performance in the theaters.

Over the June through July period, the proportion of Russian fare was 13.3 percent, according to the research group Romir Movie Research, signifying a noticeable decline from the optimistic first quarter figure of 24.7 percent. The overall haul was a slight improvement over the 2012 summer, however, when Russian films took just 10.7 percent. 

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The summer's highest grossing local release, Gagarin. Pervy v Kosmose (Gagarin. The First One in the Outer Space), took only 27th place among all the releases, grossing $1.14 million (36.2 million rubles), a meager figure compared with that of the summer's box office champion Despicable Me 2, which grossed $30 million (954.2 million rubles).

The year's first quarter was good for domestic releases thanks to a few high-profile movies, such as Legenda Nomer 17 (Legend Number 17), Nikolai Lebedev's biopic on legendary 1970s hockey player Valery Kharlamov, which grossed $29 million (922.8 million rubles) and the catastrophe movie Metro ($11.5 million/364.9 million rubles). A lack of successful Russian releases during the summer period led to a major decline in local movies' share.

The report on local movies' poor performance comes at a time when the government, which heavily subsidizes the country's film sector, is trying to tip the box office balance in favor of local fare. To that end, a system of government funding was changed as of this year, and film companies that until recently were entitled to non-refundable subsidies, will have to pay back the state cash regardless of the films' box office performance.

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