The last week in Novemberended the fiscal year in the Russian and the Central Independent States (CIS)market, which experienced exponential growth in recent years and seems to bestabilising as key cities become saturated.

According to data providedby key trade publication Russian FilmBusiness Today, total box office was $340m ($311m without Ukraine), up from$269m last year (Ukraine included) - a year-on-year increase of more than 25%.There were 81 films that broke $1m, up from 77 in 2004. Thelast being romantic comedy Prime (distributed by Paradise).

Interestingly the summer boxoffice was weaker than spring. During the summer period from May 30 to August28 Russian distributors earned $67.35m (without Ukraine), 31.3% less than spring's total ($98.05m). With Ukraine included (which is necessary for year-on-yearcomparison) the summer figure was $81.7m - 17.6% down compared to 2004'sseason. Despite this, 18 films earned more than $1m in the three summer months,up from 14 in 2004.

The years top earners wereheaded by local hits Company 9 ($23.6m) and Turkish Gambit, anadaptation of best-selling author Boris Akunin'shistorical novel, ($18.5m) which were the two local titles that surpassed Night Watch's record for top earner inRussia. Able support in the local arena also came from State Councillor,another Akunin adaptation, ($7.5m); boxing film Shadowboxing($7.2m) and action title Velvet Revolution ($6.7m). The January 1release of Night Watch follow up, Day Watch, is expected to break localrecords once again when it releases on 562 prints - the widest launch ever fora local film in Russia.

Ukraine is now audited separately from Russia and other CIS countries with operating cinemas (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova) on the request of Russian distributors followingthe Orange Revolution of 2004, in which Ukraine moved away from Russia's political sphere of influence. Despite thisrequest, many Russian distributors continue to operate subsidiaries in Ukraine. The 2005 fiscal year was the first year that Ukraine was audited separately.

The fiscal year for Russianand CIS box office starts on December 1 with the winter season, which lastsuntil the end of February. Spring is March through May, June through August issummer and September through November is autumn.

Winter holidays are NewYear's Day (January 1) and Russian Christmas (January 7), but after new holidaylaws were passed in 2004, many Russians have the first ten days of January offfrom work.