Universal Pulls 'The Snowman' from Russian Chains in Ongoing Dispute

The Snowman Still 3 - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

The studio pulls the Michael Fassbender thriller from Formula Kino and Cinema Park amid battle with Russian exhibitors over online booking fees.

The Snowman is the latest victim in an standoff between biggest Russian cinema chains and the Hollywood majors over online booking fees.

Universal has pulled its crime thriller, starring Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson, from Formula Kino and Cinema Park, two of Russia's largest theater chains, the exhibitors confirmed Friday. Both chains are owned by Russian tycoon Alexander Mamut, and have been embroiled in a dispute for several weeks now over Rambler.Kassa, an local online ticket booking service also owned by Mamut.

In early October, the service introduced a 10 percent commission on all online cinema ticket sales. According to Russian media reports, the Hollywood studios were all opposed to the new service charge but Universal has been most adamant. Earlier this year, Universal pulled Tom Cruise-starrer American Made from Mamut's chains.

Other studios have found a way around the issue. Fox let Mamut theaters screen Murder on the Orient Express but blocked online ticket sales for the film via Rambler.Kassa. Formula Kino and Cinema Park are the first and second largest cinema chains in Russia. Together they account for just over 15.3 percent of the country's screens. Mamut acquired the two exhibitors in March, a move that marked the greatest-ever consolidation in the Russian industry.