The Hollywood studios are considering ramping up their activities in Russia amid the recovery of the local film industry from the effects of the recession and the ever-growing local box office.
So far, most of the majors have already established their offices in Russia, but most still haven’t risked moving into independent production. Instead they have shot films in cooperation with leading local producers, who are familiar with the specifics of the local film industry.
Currently, among the most active majors in Russia are, Disney and Fox, as well as Universal Pictures.
Fox International Productions’ Russian plans include remakes of Tony Scott’s Man on Fire, and Mike Nichols’ comedy Working Girl with the budgets of $4m and $3.5m respectively. Exact dates of shooting haven’t yet been announced.
At the same time, Disney has recently announced its plans to produce one or two movies in Russia in cooperation with local producers, such as Vladimir Grammatikov. The Book of Masters was the first Russian Disney film, and it was released on October 29, 2009.
Moreover Universal Pictures Russia is actively cooperating with Timur Bekmambetov, Russia’s most famous producer and film director, to produce the Black Lightning sci-fi action movie. With the end of crisis, Universal Pictures Russia once again interested in launching new projects in Russia in cooperation with some local leading studios, including Central Partnership. Some of them are expected to be announced in the near future.
In the meantime, Sony Pictures was the first US major to start production of its movies in Russia, through its local Monumental Pictures subsidiary. Among the company’s Russian movies are Waiting for the Miracle (with a budget $8m), Trackman ($3m) and First Love ($5m). However all of them were coldly received by critics. Sony’s relative success is associated only with the latest projects of Monumental, such as The Best Movie 2, as well The Best Movie 3D [pictured], which was released last month.
At the same time, the only Hollywood major, which so far has not yet opened its office in Russia is Warner Brothers.
According to some Russian analysts, Warner remains a very cautious company, which considers Russia as a volatile market, associated with piracy and other problems.
Still, except Warner, most of the US majors are once again ready to make investments in the Russian film industry without fear of potential losses, which could be compensated by the distribution of blockbusters.
Further studio work in Russia could be also beneficial for the domestic film industry, and in particular to some local studios, such as Mosfilm, which would have an opportunity to load its production capacities.