'Vysotsky' Becomes Russia's Highest Grossing Movie of 2011

Vysotsky Still - H 2011

Vysotsky Still - H 2011

The biopic about a Soviet-era singer earned $21.3 million in 10 days at the box office.

MOSCOW – The movie Vysotsky. Spasibo, Chto Zhivoi (Vysotsky. Grateful To Be Alive), released on December 2, has become Russia’s 2011 box office champion.

The $12 million biopic, centered on Vladimir Vysotsky, a legendary Russian actor, singer and songwriter of the 1960s and 1970s, who died in 1980 at age 42, grossed $21.3 million at the Russian box office as of Monday, December 12, according to the Russian movie data base Kinopoisk.ru.

The movie was co-produced by Russia’s top television station Channel One, which in the past produced such box office champions as Timur Bekmambetov’s Nochnoy Dozor (Night Watch) and Dnevnoy Dozor (Day Watch), and Monumental Pictures, a company co-owned by Michael Schlicht, head of the Russian office of Sony Pictures. It was written by Vysotsky’s son Nikita and directed by Pyotr Buslov, who replaced two other directors employed over the five years it took to produce the film.

One of major publicity tricks that helped to attract people to the theaters was a mystery around who played the main character. The actor’s name was never revealed and is not on the credits.

“We were looking for an actor for a very long time”, Konstantin Ernst, Channel One’s general director, was quoted as saying by the wire service RIA Novosti shortly before the movie’s premiere. “[We] understood that there is no such actor, and eventually we came up with a combination of impressive performance, makeup and CGI.

Meanwhile, it is widely believed that Vysotsky was played by heavily made-up Sergei Bezrukov, a popular actor who was at the early production stages reportedly considered for the main role.