Russia to Help Local Films Better Compete Against Hollywood

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A view of Moscow

The group of exhibitors will advise on projects likely to make big bucks at the box office.

The Russian Ministry of Culture is forming an "expert committee" made up of exhibitors to advise on commercially successful films to help direct state funds toward backing the most promising projects that apply for public money.

Although not explicitly stated, the move is the latest in a string of measures designed to help domestic producers better compete with Hollywood blockbusters, which take the lion share's of Russia's annual $1 billion box office.

Executives from the leading national exhibition chains will be invited to join an expert committee of the Ministry of Culture and its subsidiary body, the Russian Cinema Fund, Vyacheslav Telnov, head of the ministry's film department said.

The decision to expand the committee to include those with daily experience of which movies sell the most tickets was made after culture minister Vladimir Medinsky asked industry figures to submit proposals for improving the way public money is spent on film projects.

"The proposal strengthens the advisory council for the selection of commercially successful projects," Telnov said.

In recent years Russian government officials and lawmakers have suggested a range of proposals for supporting the local film industry in the face of competition from Hollywood movies.

Attempts have ranged from stricter conditions attached to public grants for movie producers to attempts to introduce quotas for Hollywood films.

The latest move — a proposal to add tax to the price of tickets sold for Hollywood and foreign films — is still under active consideration.

Hollywood films have topped the box-office charts this summer with tentpoles including Fantastic Four and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. recording million-dollar-plus opening weekends.