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'Stalingrad' Has Record-Breaking First Week in Russia

Stalingrad - H - 2013
Alexei Timofeyev
Fyodor Bondarchuk (left), director of "Stalingrad," on set in a production still.

The 3D epic war movie, a first for Russian Imax theaters, takes $22 million in first seven days of domestic release.

MOSCOW – Russia's first-ever IMAX 3D movie, wartime epic Stalingrad, broke domestic first week box-office records.

The lavish epic -- which has been criticized for showing German troops in too kind a light and sparked petitions to have the title banned -- took 713 million rubles ($22 million) in Russia and CIS former Soviet countries since its release Oct. 11.

The figure makes it the ninth-highest-grossing Russian film ever. It was seen by more than 2.5 million moviegoers at 1,149 screens.

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Previous Russia first weekend chart toppers include comedy spoofs Samyy Luchshiy Film (The Very Best Film) and Our Russia: The Balls of Fate.

Anton ZlatopolskyStalingrad's producer and director general of TV channel Rossiya, said the film's subject matter -- the bloodiest battle of the war on the eastern front that became a turning point in Stalin's historic struggle with Hitler -- appealed to Russian audiences.

"Viewers can rethink themselves and their country in the context of this story, looking to new sources of inspiration and heroes that inspire them," Zlatopolsky said.

But not all viewers have been inspired. Signatures are being collected for an online petition seeking to have the film banned.

The petition's backers say Nazi troops are shown in a favorable light, but "Soviet soldiers are depicted as poorly educated, stupid and second-rate people, driven by low instincts."