Russian Culture Minister Criticizes 'Fifty Shades Freed' for "Crashing" Local Releases

Fifty Shades Freed Wedding - Publicity - H 2018
Universal Pictures

Released on Feb. 8, the Universal film became the country's fourth highest-grossing movie of the year to date after its first weekend.

Russia’s culture minister Vladimir Medinsky singled out Universal's Fifty Shades Freed for "crashing" the homegrown movies that were in theaters when the Hollywood studio movie was released in the country on Feb. 8.

"I don't know what social issues this unquestionable masterpiece of global cinema is addressing," Medinsky said sarcastically at a government meeting, the news agency TASS reported. "But cinema chains, moved by the market's invisible hand, gave it 70 percent of all screenings [this past weekend], crashing a number of excellent local movies that are currently in theaters."

Medinsky apparently used the example of Fifty Shades Freed to push for more protectionism against Hollywood and foreign films, an idea he has been promoting for years despite opposition from exhibitors.

"I have to raise the issue of the necessity to support a draft law that would put a cap on the highest proportion of all screenings given to any individual release," he went on to say.

Medinsky later conceded that the 70 percent figure he brought up was not for the entire weekend, but only for specific days.

Fifty Shades Freed made $7.2 million over the weekend, which immediately made it the fourth highest-grossing movie of the year in Russia so far. It also was the biggest weekend opening of the year.

In 2015, Fifty Shades of Grey was Russia's ninth biggest-grossing movie, and Fifty Shades Darker landed in the 21st spot two years later.

Universal did not reply to The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment.