Conflicts & War

Russian cinemas resist being shipwrecked by Western sanctions

Moscow, May 16 (EFE).- Russian movie theaters are facing the biggest crisis of the 21st century and are asking the Russian government for support.

The industry first survived the crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, and now faces another setback due to Western sanctions for the country’s military incursion into Ukraine.

Following the withdrawal of Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount and Universal from the Russian market in protest of the military action, nearly half of all Russian cinemas face closure as their profits have fallen by more than 80 percent, according to industry sources.

The Hollywood pullout could cause the closure of half of the cinemas in the country, according to Alexei Vasianin, the director-general of the cinema chains “Formula Kino” and “Cinema Park,” according to Interfax agency.

The businessman proposed that the government should carry out a purge and facilitate the mass closure of a part of the theaters instead of avoiding it, in order to “save” the most profitable theaters and avoid the total collapse of the cinema chains.

The head of the KARO cinema chain, Olga Zinyakova, quoted by TASS agency, said she has been working very actively with the relevant ministries to gain support for the industry, and hoped for government subsidies.

According to the manager of this chain, which has 250 halls in 36 cinemas located in the largest cities in Russia, KARO has submitted to the Russian Government proposals on the steps needed to save this branch of the entertainment industry in the country.

Zinyakova underlined that the sanctions marked a difference in profits between February and March 2022 amounting to 50 percent in Moscow and up to 85 percent in other regions of Russia.

Russian distributors and producers have already proposed to try to save the situation using Russian cult films as replacement, such as the feature films “Brother” and “Brother 2” by director Aleksei Balabanov.

The move, however, is not enough to cover the losses.

In addition, the distribution networks have studied the possibility of expanding their repertoires thanks to an increase in Bollywood premieres, an option that not enough salvage the situation as it only has a small audience.

KARO’s director argued that the Russian government should seek modifications to current laws and make them more flexible so as to help cinemas stay up and running, alongside providing more funding in times of crisis.

Earlier this month, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced the injection of an additional 14.5 billion rubles (over $227 million) into the country’s film industry.

At a cabinet meeting, the prime minister, announcing the measure, hoped it would help start the production of dozens of new projects, including feature films for a wide audience, as well as documentaries and short films. EFE


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