Russia Sees Increase in Annual Movie Theater Attendance

Courtesy of Central Partnership
'Going Vertical' was Russia's top grossing film of 2017.

Admissions in Russian movie theaters were up 10 percent to 212 million in 2017, overtaking numbers in France for the first time.

Russia became Europe's biggest movie market by cinema admissions in 2017, a new report by St. Petersburg-based Nevafilm Research says. Admissions rose year over year by 10 percent to reach 212.2 million, compared with the 209.4 million tickets sold in France.

However, the U.K. and France remain among the biggest European markets in terms of box-office receipts: British cinemas saw sales of around $1.9 billion in 2017 and France $1.6 billion. Russia's box-office total of $841 million (53.3 billion rubles) reflected both lower ticket prices and a weak local currency.

Russia's attendance figures — exceeding Europe's traditional cinema-going powerhouse, France — were boosted by a growing taste for local film. Russian Cinema Foundation figures show that domestic movies accounted for 25.6 percent of ticket sales. The state-funded body aims to boost that figure to 30 percent in the coming years.

Going Vertical, a Russian sports drama that tells the story of a controversial Soviet basketball team win over the U.S. at Munich Olympics in 1972 — was Russia's box-office winner in 2017, taking around $48 million. Next best was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which grossed $37 million.

Hollywood fare still dominates the Russian box office, but the proportion of local movies' gross has been on the rise in recent years, partly driven up to the culture ministry's protectionist measures.

The 2017 figure of 25.6 percent was up from 18 percent in 2016, 15 percent in 2015 and 17 percent in 2014.

The culture ministry has the right to move Hollywood releases if they clash with major local movies, which it used a few times last year.

In the first six months of this year three Russian movies have made the top 10, but Avengers: Infinity War is still the top grosser so far, with box-office takings of $34 million.