Planned Russian Studio Complex Faces Uncertain Future as Partner Pulls Out

Broadcaster VGTRK sells its 49 percent stake to partner Sistema, raising questions about the outlook for what was to become the country's largest studio facility in St. Petersburg.

MOSCOW – Russia’s state-run broadcaster VGTRK is pulling out of the St Petersburg-based Lenfilm XXI studio project, leaving the future of the development uncertain.

VGTRK is selling its 49 percent stake in the project to the other partner, Sistema Mass Media (SMM), the Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Oct. 17.

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The report also quoted a source familiar with the project as saying that a decision about the future of the project, which was to become Russia’s largest studio complex at the time of its inception two years ago, hasn’t been made.

Meanwhile, the situation on St Petersburg’s studio facilities sector has changed dramatically since Lenfilm, the country’s oldest studio complex, secured a $47.7 million (1.5 billion ruble) loan from the state-run bank VTB last year. With the appointment of producer/director Fyodor Bondarchuk as Lenfilm’s head, the struggling studio embarked on a major renovation scheme. That development made the Lenfilm XXI project less relevant, especially given the fact that another major studio complex, the 120,000 square-foot Russian World Studios, controlled by SMM, operates in the city.

The total investment in Lenfilm XXI was estimated to be $150 million (4.2 billion rubles), which VGTRK and SMM expected to attract as a loan from Vneshekonombank, but a deal was never reached.

So far, the project has not progressed beyond the design stage.