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Russia Reaches 3,228 Film Screens, Close to Saturation, Report Finds

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Only state support for theaters in smaller cities could lead to renewed substantial growth, according to research firm Nevafilm.

MOSCOW – The number of movie theater screens in Russia has reached 3,228, a figure that researchers say could go up to 3,500, but there is not seen to be room for growth beyond that.

In the first six months of 2013, the country saw 56 new theaters with 177 screens open, while 35 theater and 59 screens were closed, according to a report by research company Nevafilm.

The substantial theater growth achieved last year has slowed down, it found. “In cities with a population under 100,000 people, opening new film theaters is uneconomical as the recoup period could be very long,” Xenia Leontyeva, senior analyst at Nevafilm, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Over the last few years, industry players have been calling on the government to subsidize the construction of new theaters in smaller towns, which would give a boost to the sector. However, no decisions in that area have been made so far.

“If there was state support for opening new theaters in smaller cities, the total number of screens could go up to 5,000, but at the moment it is uncertain,” Leontyeva said.

According to Leontyeva, a large number of new screens were added in 2012, signifying a boom that followed the 2008 economic downturn. But in the first half of 2013, a lot of theaters were closed down. “Hopefully, some of them closed temporarily and will be renovated and reopened,” she said.