China is shaping up to be a major foreign market for increasingly well-made Russian films - Russian producers are aiming at earnings of 100
This article originally appeared in The Moscow Times
Russian movies, which have struggled to gain a footing abroad since the fall of the Soviet Union, are now breaking into the world's second-largest box office just across the border in China.
In 2013, the big-budget war film "Stalingrad" became the first Russian movie to get a wide release in China, earning $8.3 million in its first four days in theaters, according to the BBC news agency's Russian-language service. "Stalingrad" also became Russia's highest-grossing movie of all time, earning $51 million in Russia, according to film website Kinopoisk.
Russian film's momentum has grown since then: China bought a total of 11 Russian films at the Marche du Film in Cannes last month, more than any other country, and the animated film "The Snow Queen" will become the first Russian cartoon to go into wide release in China when it premieres there on July 31.China stands to offer Russian films a vast audience and soaring revenues. The Chinese box office surged by 34 percent to $4.8 billion last year, driving growth in the international market, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, a U.S. film trade association.
It also offers an immense network of movie theaters, boasting 20,000 movie screens across the country to Russia's 3,780, according to Alexander Luzhin, CEO of market analysis firm Movie Research.
Russian film professionals hope that the burgeoning political ties between the two countries will help revive Russian movies' popularity in China, which reached a peak during the Soviet era only to plummet when the industry fell apart following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Read more in The Moscow Times