Theatrical Distribution Still Has Good Prospects in Russia

Panelists discussed the topic at a Forum Russia 2012 event held in Moscow.

MOSCOW – Despite the advent of new technology and alternative media, traditional film theaters still have good prospects in Russia, according to participants in the panel discussion “Does Theatrical Distribution Have a Future?” at the Forum Russia 2012’s event “Investment in Film, Television and New Media,” held in Moscow on Saturday, February 4.

The insufficient number of film theaters in Russia’s smaller cities and towns has been an acute issue for several years and still remains so, the participants acknowledged.

“Several biggest cities have too many film theaters and other entertainment, while elsewhere, there is none,” said producer and director Fyodor Bondarchuk, adding that the development of theater chains would help to bring the proportion of local fare in the total box office back to the 30% figure, achieved in 2005-2006.

Oleg Berezin, general director of Neva Film, added that theatrical distribution faces major challenges related to technological changes, as new formats for watching film, other than at a theater, become more common and some movies are better suited, for instance, for watching at home than at a theater.

Meanwhile, the concept of cinema going as family entertainment is still in early stages, unlike in the USA and Western Europe, which creates more opportunities for theatrical distribution. “Potential for theatrical distribution in Russia is higher than in other countries,” noted Eduard Pichugin, the founder of the theater chains Kronwerk Cinema and Kino City.

He added that multiplex theaters that screen domestic art house movies alongside Hollywood blockbusters have become a major platform for the development of the Russian film industry.

“The future of theatrical distribution is not cloudless, but there is one,” concluded Ivan Kudryavtsev, editor in chief of The Hollywood Reporter Russian Edition, who moderated the discussion.