Russian Hit Movie 'Viy' Didn't Get U.S. Release Due to Co-Producer's Delays, Lawsuit Claims

Courtesy of Event Film

Producers of 2014's highest-grossing local film lodged the biggest-ever lawsuit in the Russian film industry.

The Russian film industry was rattled last week as Moscow's arbitration court registered Russian Film Group's lawsuit against Teterin Film, its co-producer on Viy, Russia's highest-grossing local movie of 2014.

RFG claims that Teterin Film failed to implement its contractual obligations for co-financing the movie and is demanding a total of 640 million rubles ($8.5 million), a record sum for film industry litigations in Russia.

According to RFG, Teterin Film's failure to provide an agreed co-financing of 34.5 million rubles (about $1.1 million at the exchange rate of the time) led to a delay in production of the movie's international version, and RFG eventually lost a $13.7 million minimum guarantee from an international distributor.

As a result, the international release of the 3D horror movie based on Nikolai Gogol's story and starring Jason Flemyng was thwarted, and it never hit theaters in the U.S. and was only released on DVD.

Efforts aimed at reaching a goodwill agreement between the two parties failed, the Russian daily Izvestia reported.

Teterin Films declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the news of the lawsuit surprised many in the Russian film industry, as Teterin Films and its head Oleg Teterin have always stressed that the company co-produced Viy.

RFG said Teterin Films was put on the credits as a goodwill gesture in hopes that the company would implement its obligations.

Teterin Films (formerly Fetisov Teterin Films) is also known for a heavily criticized cinema chain project for smaller cities.

Viy is Russia's fourth-highest-grossing movie of all time, according to local trade journal Exhibitor's Bulletin.