Russia Plans Restrictions on Hollywood, Foreign Releases

Avengers: Age of Ultron The Hulk Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Avengers: Age of Ultron The Hulk Still - H 2015

Local distributors will be able to move release dates of films from overseas if they compete with domestic movies.

Russia's culture ministry has prepared a new procedure for issuing exhibition licenses to movies, which is widely viewed as a move aimed to give preferences to local releases over Hollywood and other foreign films.

Under Russian law, no movie can be screened without an exhibition license. Currently, exhibition licenses don't include release dates, but under the new procedure, the ministry will decide if a movie can be released on a specific date or whether the date of its release will have to be moved.

Technically, the culture ministry already has the power to move release dates for foreign movies to avoid competition with major local releases, but only as an exceptional measure.

Now, distributors of Russian movies will be able to apply to the ministry and demand that a date of a competing foreign release be changed, if the "target audience" of the two films is the same.

Local producers have welcomed the new procedure. Natalia Mokritskaya, producer of Bitva za Sevastopol (Battle for Sevastopol), was quoted by the news agency RIA Novosti as saying that her film had to compete with Furious 7 on the second week of its theatrical run and lost a substantial share of the box office to the Hollywood competitor.

She added that she'll definitely apply to the culture ministry for an adjustment of release dates the next time she releases a movie with commercial potential.

Earlier this year, Disney voluntarily moved up the Russian release date of The Avengers: Age of Ultron to avoid collision with the Russian film A zori zdes tikhie (The Dawns Here are Quiet), one of the year's major local releases, after the culture ministry said it would otherwise force the company to do so.