Russia: Hollywood Maintains Box Office Lead in 2014 Despite Ruble Woes

Transformers: Age of Extinction TV Spot - H 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction TV Spot - H 2014

Local movies' market share of 13 percent is down on last year

Hollywood maintained its predominance in the Russian box office during 2014 despite the hammering studios and distributors received from the collapse in value of local currency the ruble.

Progressive decline against the dollar and other foreign currencies during the year lopped 50 percent off the value of the ruble, with the steepest decline over a few days in mid-December, just before the major holiday season, which in Russia kicks off Dec. 31 on the eve of a 10-day national New Year holiday.

That will damage dollar-converted takings for Hollywood films, though it may not affect footfall or local currency takings.

But for distributors who need to pay their bills in dollars and studios that count their profits in greenbacks, it spells lower takings and poorer prospects in 2015 as exhibitors resist any attempt to increase ticket prices that could scare audiences away.

Read more Russia's Economic Crisis Bodes Ill for Hollywood Majors

Only one local film made it into the top 10 movies released in 2014: horror fantasy Viy, starring Charles Dance and Jason Flemyng, based on a story by 19th-century novelist Nikolai Gogol, which took fourth place with box office takings of $34 million -- $8 million more than its $26 million budget.

Yolki 3 (Christmas Tree 3), part of an annual New Year holiday franchise produced by Timur Bekmambetov's Moscow-based Bazelevs, would come in at eighth place in the Russian and CIS (former Soviet states) chart if late releases of 2013 were included.

All other top-ranking films were Hollywood blockbusters, with budgets ranging between the $250 million spent on second-place movie Guardians of the Galaxy and Rio 2 (with a $100 million budget).

The top money spinner in Russia this year was Transformers: Age of Extinction, which made $45.5 million -- around 21 percent of its budget of $210 million, demonstrating the importance of Russian releases to Tinseltown's bottom line worldwide.

Read more TV Viewership Is on the Rise in Russia

Guardians took a shade under $38 million; coming in third was Maleficent, which grossed $37.5 million.

Overall through mid-December, according to figures collated by Russian trade journal Kinobusiness Today using ruble/dollar exchange rates for weekend grosses at the time of release, total box office for the year's 399 releases was $1.15 billion, of which local movies' share was just under $212 million, or 13 percent of the total. That's nearly $28 million less than the full year in 2013, when overall box office was $1.3 billion and Russian films grossed a combined $240 million.

Top Ten Movies in Russia in 2014:

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction ($45.6 million)

2. Guardians of the Galaxy ($37.9 million)

3. Maleficent ($37.6 million)

4. Viy ($34 million)

5. Noah ($34 million)

6. How to Train Your Dragon 2 ($30 million)

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($29 million)

8. Rio 2 ($26.6 million)

9. 47 Ronin ($26.3 million)

10. Interstellar ($24.7 million)