Russian studios in state/private partnership

Investors could get up to 75% share package in state studios

MOSCOW – The Russian government has prepared a development program for state-run studio facilities, under which studio complexes will be consolidated and private investors will be brought in.

Under the program, Moscow’s Gorky Studio will obtain control of smaller Kazan Studios in the Volga region and North Caucasus Studios. St. Petersburg’s Lenfilm will take over the St. Petersburg Documentary Studios, while privately-run Russian World Studios, whose main studio assets are also located in St. Petersburg, will be brought in as an investor in Lenfilm to form a “state/private partnership.”

“We are interested in this project,” Stanislav Yershov, Gorky Studio’s general director, told The Hollywood Reporter. “We receive a lot of requests for postproduction services from other cities and having assets in the country’s regions would give us more business opportunities.” According to Yershov, it would take about six months for the program to go ahead.

“A state-private partnership is an effective management instrument,” Yuri Sapronov, Russian World Studios’ CEO told THR. However, he wouldn’t go into details of possible partnership with Lenfilm. “Our priority task at the moment is the construction of the second unit of the RWS St. Petersburg studio complex, which will take place from 2009 to 2012,” he said. “We don’t rule out that our facilities could become a production base for a tandem with Lenfilm.”

Under the program, a strategic investor could obtain up to a 75% minus one share package in state studio facilities, with the government retaining a blocking stake.

Meanwhile, Mosfilm, the country’s biggest state-run studio complex is not involved in the scheme. “There was some talk about our participation in the program at the early stages,” Karen Shakhnazarov, Mosfilm’s general director, told THR. “And we wouldn’t mind joining it, but on the other hand, obtaining more facilities could become a headache for us if they were in poor condition. We are doing well the way we are now.”

Also, the privatization of Gorky Studio, which was announced and then canceled a year ago, is not part of the scheme. “Technically, I’m not against it,” Yershov said. “But at a time when the industry is stagnating and even shrinking, that wouldn’t be a wise move. And let’s see how the partnership between RWS and Lenfilm works.”