Two Russian Cinema Chains Reject Minimum Screening Share for Homegrown Films

Associated Press

They insist that an increase in the number of screenings won't attract viewers to local movies.

Two major Russian cinema chains have refused to adopt a proposed 20 percent minimum screening share for homegrown movies, a policy voluntarily adopted by most other exhibitors at the government's request.

Cinema Park and Formula Kino issued a joint statement, criticizing the idea and calling it "irresponsible" for theaters to take on obligations regarding a specified share for local movies.

"Russian movies' release schedule is unstable and their quality is unpredictable," said the statement, quoted by Russian business daily Vedomosti. "For instance, last week, Russian movies received more than one third of all screenings nationwide, but attendance hardly exceeded 5-7 percent, which proves that a sheer increase in the number of screenings won't lead to raising attendance figures for Russian films."

Last week, several Russian cinema chains that form industry association Kinoalyans, including Luxor, Five Stars, Kinomax and Mirage Cinema, signed an agreement voluntarily allocating 20 percent of all screenings in 2016 to homegrown movies.

The idea was suggested by the culture ministry and the cinema fund, two government agencies in charge of the local film industry, replacing the government's earlier plan to introduce restrictions on Hollywood and foreign movies. The plan was considered last year, but the government backed down after it was severely criticized by producers, distributors and cinema chains. However, Russian films' poor box-office performance this year has apparently prompted the government to take steps to boost local fare in comparison to Hollywood releases.

In the first nine months of 2015, Russian films' share of the total box office in the country amounted to 16.8 percent, according to trade journal Exhibitor's Bulletin, down from 18.1 percent for the entire year of 2014.

Cinema Park and Formula Kino jointly account for 64 theaters and 537 screens, or 14 percent of all theaters in Russia.