Russian Tycoon Roman Abramovich Launches Film Fund

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Courtesy of Central Partnership

The Chelsea soccer team owner will invest about $15 million a year in 10 to 15 titles.

Roman Abramovich, the Russian tycoon and owner of the English soccer team Chelsea, is launching Russia's largest private film fund, which could challenge the monopoly of the state-run cinema fund for film financing.

Abramovich's fund will administer $15 million (about 1 billion rubles) a year, the industry journal ProfiCinema reported. For comparison, the annual budget of the cinema fund, which is responsible for the lion's share of Russian film financing, is about $90 million.

As most local producers heavily rely on state cash for funding, the arrival of a major private player in the segment is unprecedented.

The new fund will be open to all kinds of projects, except for new installments of existing franchises, and the plan is to fund between 10 and 15 titles a year, providing between 20 percent and 50 percent of a film's budget. Preference will be given to projects in late production stages.

In recent years, several successful homemade movies have been released in Russia, including the patriotic sports drama Three Seconds, financed by the cinema fund, making the film sector more attractive for investors.

Abramovich, who, in addition to FC Chelsea, owns shares in the steel and mining company Evraz and the government-controlled TV network Channel One, is Russia's 11th wealthiest man, with a net worth of $10.8 billion, according to the Russian edition of Forbes.

Abramovich and another local tycoon, Alexander Mamut, co-own Moscow's movie theater Pioner.