The Russian culture ministry has been known to reschedule big foreign releases in favor of prioritizing homegrown films, as was reported by the Hollywood Reporter when last week, Russian cinema chains put out a statement specifying which films they believe are financially crucial to release at properly scheduled times, refraining from any delays. The list includes top summer movies like Pixar’s Incredibles 2 and Paramount’s next installment in the Mission Impossible franchise.
The lobbying of the theater chains was directed toward Russia’s Culture Minister, Vladimir Medinsky, who is personally responsible for the industry’s focus on Russian domestic releases, claiming a few months ago that Universal’s Fifty Shades Darker was given, “70 percent of all screenings, crashing a number of excellent local movies.” Following his previous agenda, Medinsky’s reply to the theater chain request was neglectful, with the Minister considering theater owners oleaginous in their request to prioritize foreign releases, stating, “I’m totally indifferent about the performance of Hollywood movies in Russia.”
Ever since Medinsky’s indoctrination as Minister of Culture, Russian cinema has been experiencing a steady growth. In 2016, there were a total of 97 new Russian releases compared to 67 Russian films that were released in 2012, the year when Medinsky was appointed Minister. Although Medinsky’s effort to bring Russian cinema back to the masses and support the production and distribution of local films can be considered a noble agenda, foreign releases still make up the majority of ticket sales, as indicated by another 2016 statistic, when only 11.6% of the box office was made up of the gains from domestic releases. With the culture ministry seeming adamant about their agenda, one may hope that the quality of Russian productions is worthy of the losses made on foreign films.