Russian movie theatres are all set to increase the number of screens and shows for Indian films as the western distributors limited their film sales to Russia and major Hollywood studios have boycotted Russia over the ongoing war against Ukraine.
After the coronavirus pandemic, movie theatres in Russia were hardly recovering when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s military operations in Ukraine on 24th February 2022. The operations soon took the form of war and since its beginning, Russia is facing various sanctions and boycotts from the western nations in various fields ranging from cinema to space technology. The Russian economy is the prime target of these sanctions.
As several major multinational companies have announced that they are withdrawing from Russia, several film studios have also decided not to release their movies in the country. Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony Entertainment are among the big studios who have either delayed or cancelled their big releases in Russia.
According to the Russian daily Vedomosti, after the announcement by major Hollywood studios that new releases will be suspended in Russia, Russian cinema networks may turn to Bollywood blockbusters and films from other Asian and Latin American nations. Foreign films accounted for 75% of the Russian box office in 2021. Going to the movies is one of the most popular leisure activities among Russians. The report says that recently the special screening of the film ‘Radhe Shyam’ brought full houses and new viewers for the united cinema network Cinema Park and Formula Kino.
Olga Zinyakova, president of the Karo cinema chain, told Vedomosti that she didn’t believe the situation was hopeless. “People used to line up to see Bollywood in cinemas, so there is interest in these movies.” Cinema Park, Formula Kino, Premier Hall, Karo, Kinomax, and Cinema Star are major movie exhibition chains in Russia. They informed the Russian newspaper that they will show domestic fare, films from South Korea and Latin America, and the films of India’s Bollywood. These cinema chains account for 31.5 percent of the film distribution market in terms of movie halls as of January 2022.
Cinema chains will not raise ticket rates and will instead freeze them. However, theatres will continue to play Russian and South Korean films, as well as Indian films. Therefore, it is a good opportunity for Indian cinemas and Indian filmmakers may gain from the Russian market following the withdrawal of major studios from Hollywood.