First Online Movie Premiere Held in Russia

Producers say the idea is good but needs more work.

MOSCOW - The first Russian online premiere before a theatrical release was successful, according to online distributors, but the producers are not so sure.

The independent film Vdrebezgi (Shattered), directed by Roman Karimov, became the first local movie to be premiered online before opening in theaters. The online video service RuTube broadcast live a special screening of the movie at Moscow’s Pyat Zvyozd theater two days before the film’s general release last month. The film was also available for one day to users of the subscription video service before it opened in theaters.

RuTube and said that the online premiere helped them to generate significant numbers of users. “At the beginning of the live broadcast from Pyat Zvyozd, we had so many new users that we had to increase the capacities of our channel,” RuTube’s general director Mikhail Ilyichev told the industry journal Exhibitor’s Bulletin.

But now that the film’s theater run is nearly over, the producers say that the online premiere could have had a negative impact on its box office performance.

“This was quite a bold experiment,” Mikhail Kukushkin, a co-producer, told The Hollywood Reporter. “But the problem is that immediately after its online release, the film was ripped and became available on torrent trackers, even though the quality was poor.”

According to Kukushkin, while the hype over the online premiere could have brought a few extra viewers to the theaters, there were many more people who preferred to watch a pirated online version. “The idea of an online premiere is good but we have to think about its execution.”

According to the KinoPoisk film data base, Shattered was made on a $400,000 budget and has grossed just about the same in theaters so far.