Number of New Movie Theaters Opened in Russia Hits 13-Year Low

Moscow Red Square - P 2012

Moscow Red Square - P 2012

Cinema chains are unwilling to invest in new construction.

The number of new movie theaters opened in Russia in 2014 was the lowest since 2001, according to data released by the research association NP Expert.

Last year, 36 new cinemas with 329 screens were inaugurated in Russia, the lowest figure over the last 13 years, which contributed to an overall decline in movie attendance. In 2014, for the first time since 1991, the number of admissions did not grow but declined by 0.2 percent, year-over-year.

In addition, last year, new theaters were launched mostly in cities where the number of cinemas is already high, such as Moscow, while in smaller cities and towns, contemporary cinemas are still in shortage.

Experts explained the low figure of new theaters is due to cinema chains' unwillingness to invest in construction in an uncertain economic situation.

"Very few cinema owners build new theaters," Alexander Luzhin, president of NP Expert, said in a press release. "[New cinemas] are mostly opened in shopping and entertainment centers. Property developers, in turn, are unwilling to build those in smaller cities and towns."

As of the beginning of 2015, 1,128 theaters were in operation in Russia, but only 60.2 percent of the country's total population have access to them.

The insufficient number of film theaters in Russia's smaller cities and towns has long been cited as a major obstacle to growth of the local box office.