Russian Director to Develop State-Funded Cinema Network

200 provincial cities with a population of under 500,000 targeted

MOSCOW -- Russian director Fyodor Bondarchuk and his partner Eduard Pichugin are to develop a state-funded film theater network in the country's regions.

The three-year program stipulates the opening of new film theaters in about 200 provincial cities with a population of under 500,000 people, Bondarchuk told The Hollywood Reporter.

The project is to be developed jointly by Kinocity Management, co-owned by Bondarchuk and Pichugin, the founder of the film theater chain Kronwerk Cinema, and the Russian government.

Under the program, state funding is to be provided to develop film theaters in areas where the recoup period would be long.

According to Bondarchuk, the first theaters under the program are to open in Maykop, Volsk and Rzhev within a year.

He wouldn't disclose the project's total value, but the business daily Kommersant estimated it at $400 million.

The low regional penetration of cinema screens is widely believed to be one of the main reasons for the poor financial performance of the Russian film industry.