Russian Tycoon Acquires Share in TV Series Producer

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Fyodor Bondarchuk

Yuri Kovalchuk's National Media Group bought a 50 percent stake in Fyodor Bondarchuk's Art Pictures Vision.

MOSCOW -- Russia's National Media Group, owned by tycoon Yuri Kovalchuk, who is reportedly close to President Vladimir Putin, has acquired a 50 percent share in the TV series production company Art Pictures Vision.

Art Pictures Vision is a television-series division of Art Pictures group, owned by well-known producer, director and actor Fyodor Bondarchuk and his long-time business partner Dmitry Rudovsky.

Art Pictures, which was formed in the early 1990s as a producer of commercials and music videos and later graduated to producing theatrical features, entered the field of TV series production two years ago and has the successful series Molodezhka (Youth Squad) and Vyzhit Posle (To Survive After) to its name. Both were aired by the network CTC, which is now also controlled by National Media Group.

"Currently, TV stations want top-quality, large-scale TV series, which is something we are interested in producing," Rudovsky was quoted as saying by the Russian business daily Vedomosti.

The value of the deal wasn't disclosed, but the Vedomosti report estimated it to be in the vicinity of tens of millions of dollars.

Over the last 10 years, Art Pictures has produced several local box-office champions, including the WWII epic Stalingrad, directed by Bondarchuk, which became Russia's all-time local box-office champion. Art Pictures also belongs to the "top 13" Russian major film companies, which are entitled to government funding.