Twentieth Century Fox has chosen Moscow as the first city in its European roll-out of Moulin Rouge as an indication of the growing strength of the Russian exhibition sector. The film, which is distributed in Russia by Gemini Kinomir, will have its premiere in Moscow on August 2 - nearly a month ahead of its September 1 release in the rest of Europe.

"Summer is a good time for event pictures in Russia," said Gemini Kinomir president Michael Schlicht, "we are planning parties and other events for premieres in five Russian cities this summer. We also wanted to use the publicity from the film's screening at the Moscow Film Festival as a platform for the release."

The Russian box office is currently soaring some 50% over the same period last year - boosted in part by the continuing improvement in the Russian economy, as well as significant improvements in the exhibition sector. The release of The Mummy Returns earlier this year brought in $2.8m at the box office in its first two months.

Moulin Rouge is expected to achieve at least $1.5m at the box office during its summer release, figures that would have been impossible only a year ago, according to Schlicht.