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MOSCOW — Russian movie Yolki (Six Degrees of Celebration), produced by Timur Bekmambetov and distributed by his newly formed distribution company, has become Russia’s new box office champion.
The New Year-themed movie has grossed roughly 700 million roubles ($23.5 million) so far, becoming the year’s highest grossing movie to date and the most successful local movie over the last three years.
“This figure surpassed everyone’s expectations, including ours,” Ruslan Tatarintsev, Bazelevs’ marketing and distribution director, told The Hollywood Reporter. “The main reason for the success was that we had a quality product that people wanted to watch. The word of mouth helped immensely.”
Bekmambetov is one of five directors contributing to the movie, set in several Russian cities, featuring top local stars, such as Sergei Garmash and Artur Smolyaninov, and high-profile TV personalities, which also contributed to the movie’s box office performance, alongside substantial marketing efforts. Of the film’s total budget of 170 million roubles, ($5.8 million), about two thirds were spent on marketing, Tatarintsev said.
What also pleased the producers and distributors was the fact that the movie was able to outperform the Hollywood blockbusters Tron: Legacy and Gulliver’s Travels – a rare event in Russia, where local movies have been losing their share to Hollywood fare over the last few years.
“What maters is quality,” Tatarintsev said. “If a movie is good, people will watch it regardless whether it is Russian or American.”
Meanwhile, the producers are determined to cash in on the movie’s success as well as on the audiences’ increased interest in 3D. Bazelevs have begun work on the sequel, Yolki-2, which is to be shot in 3D. Its release is tentatively scheduled for 2012.
Bekmambetov’s directing credits include Russian hit movies Night Watch and Day Watch and the Hollywood film Wanted. He also co-produced animated film 9 with Tim Burton.
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