Movie Theater Attendance Falls in Russia for the First Time Since 2002

Courtesy of Event Film
"Viy" was Russia's top grossing local movie in 2014

No local release was able to come close to 'Stalingrad's' record breaking performance in 2013.

In 2014, movie theater attendance fell in Russia for the first time in 12 years.

Last year, 190.5 million admissions were registered, a 0.2 percent decline from the previous year, the analytical group Movie Research said in a press release.

Although insignificant in quantitative terms, the decline was important as it was the first decline in admissions since 2002.

Meanwhile, thanks to increasing ticket prices, the total box office grew by 4.4 percent to 46.2 billion rubles or $723.7 million at the current exchange rate, still indicating a substantial decline in U.S. dollar terms as the ruble lost more than 50 percent of its value in 2014.

Movie Research's executive director Alexander Luzhin explained the decline by the overall economic crisis and the fact that no major Russian movie, comparable with 2013's box office champion, Fyodor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad, premiered last year.

While Stalingrad was the country's top grossing movie in 2013, ahead of all Hollywood releases and also becoming the highest grossing local movie ever, last year's top grossing local release, Viy, was only sixth, and the only Russian movie to make the top 10 of box office champions.

Another factor that might have contributed to the decline was a slowdown in the development of theater chains, the business daily Vedomosti reported.

According to Luzhin, in 2015, Russia's box office is likely to stay the same as last year, as few major releases expected to generate 4 million admissions or more have been scheduled.