Russian Culture Minister Shrugs Off Exhibitors' Push for Hollywood Fare

Vladimir Medinsky Russian Culture Minister

Vladimir Medinsky says their complaints about rescheduling foreign releases are "improper" and he is "totally indifferent" to the performance of Hollywood films in the country.

Russia's culture minister Vladimir Medinsky has shrugged off local cinema chains' concerns about his agency's practice of rescheduling Hollywood releases to avoid release conflicts with homegrown titles, saying their complaints were "improper."

Earlier this week, several top Russian cinema chains came up with a list of foreign, mostly Hollywood, titles that they said were vital for the exhibition industry and should not be rescheduled, including Disney's Incredibles 2 (scheduled for release June 14), Paramount's Mission: Impossible 6 (July 26) and Fox's The Predator (Sept. 13).

Medinsky didn't specifically comment on any of those titles, but his statements implied that his agency wouldn't take any advice from the exhibitors.

"All performance indicators of the last five to six years show sustainable growth in exhibition of not just local movies, but the entire industry," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agency TASS. "And we see it as a direct outcome of our agency's efficient work."

He added: "I should point out that one half of the box office gross goes to cinema chains' owners, so their complaints about the culture ministry are just improper."

Medinsky, recently reappointed, is known as an ardent proponent of protectionism for the local film industry. He was behind regulation that allows the culture ministry to reschedule foreign releases to avoid collisions with major Russian movies. So far, about a half-dozen releases have been rescheduled, most recently the animated film Charming. It was originally scheduled to hit Russian cinemas May 24, but has now been postponed indefinitely.

Still, Medinsky claimed he is taking the interests of the exhibition industry into account. "I'm totally indifferent about the performance of Hollywood movies in Russia," he said. "But our agency cares about the success of the exhibition industry in general."