'Cafe Society' Becomes Woody Allen's Biggest Russian Box-Office Performer

'Cafe Society'

The 1930s-period film is the year's highest-grossing U.S. indie movie in the country.

Woody Allen's Cafe Society has set a box-office record for the director's films in Russia.

The movie, which opened this year's Cannes Film Festival, grossed nearly 109 million rubles ($1.6 million) over its first four weeks in theaters in the country, attracting 334,319 viewers, according to distributor Volgafilm, setting a record for ticket sales in Russia for a film by Allen.

His previous record in Russia was for To Rome With Love, which over 17 weeks in 2012 sold 332,683 tickets for a total of 95 million rubles. Although the sharp drop in the value of Russia's currency against the dollar over the past two years means that in dollar terms Cafe Society's box-office receipts are lower than those of To Rome With Love — when 95 million rubles would have bought closer to $3 million — the movie has drawn more than any other Allen film in local currency terms.

That also makes it the year's highest-grossing U.S indie release in the territory, outperforming the Coen brothers' Hail Caesar!, which brought in 69 million rubles ($1 million) in Russia. 

Earlier this summer, Cafe Society was the closing film at the Moscow International Film Festival.

While the Coen brothers are traditionally popular with Russian indie viewers, Allen's record is a bit more patchy. Last year's Allen release Irrational Man was the director's lowest-grossing film in Russia ever with 46 million rubles ($726,000).

Volgafilm says the latest figures are encouraging. "One of the main points of the promotion strategy for Cafe Society was to make it the summer's main 'society' film event," Sergey Nekrasov, Volga's director of acquisitions, told The Hollywood Reporter. "The film screened as the [closing film] of the Moscow International Film Festival, and its Moscow premieres were held at the best-known venues, supported by major brands."

Active promotion and positive audience buzz have combined to drive its box office, he said.

"Weekend to weekend receipts show minimal drops," Daria Ryazantseva, Volgafilm's head of distribution, added, saying the drops are among the lowest for Woody Allen films in Russia.

In a sign of Allen's growing popularity in Russia, his movies have been getting increasingly wide releases. Cafe Society is playing on 417 screens, 21 more than Irrational Man, which got its Russian release in August 2015. Among Allen's earlier films distributed in Russia, Magic in the Moonlight was released on 363 screens and Blue Jasmine on 285.