Russia, a country with over 140 million inhabitants, has a decidedly low average pro-capita frequency rate (lower than one ticket a year) but a growth rate on the theatrical exhibition market with exceptional characteristics: between 2002 and 2004 box office more than doubled, reaching around 225 million dollars.
“And in 2005, too, we foresee no stop to the increase in box office”, states Oleg Berezin, Chief Executive Officer of Nevafilm, although he admits that in terms of admissions only a rather modest growth rate can be expected, of around 5%.
This means that it is mostly ticket prices that are on the increase and they can easily come to as much as 350 roubles, or the equivalent of 10 euro. It is also true that, unlike the situation in Western Europe, the “gap” between the lowest price and the highest is much wider: tickets for morning screenings, at reduced rates for students, soldiers or the elderly may even cost only a tenth of the Saturday evening screening in the “vip” sector. The difference in price between the centre seats (the “vip” sector) and the furthest ones is also a characteristic of Russia’s “new generation” of offers, as is the availability of a wardrobe and, in many cases, the presence of video games.
The latter are even to be found in the prestigious “October”, the complex that has just been re-opened by Karo Film, the leading Moscow exhibitor, in the heart of the Capital on the crowded New Arbat. After a period of closure lasting several years, due to thorough renovation work and complex burocratic issues, the October now offers 9 screens – for a total of over 3,000 seats – including one of grandiose proportions, seating 1,518. And even if there are those who would have preferred a more lavish design, despite its warm but sober materials and colours the October is an ideal venue for hosting great events. It is here that the 2006 Moscow International Film Festival will be moving, here that, on 16 September, at the closure of Kino Expo, the fourth edition of awards to the Russian cinema industry was held. At the end of the ceremony, the pre-screening of 9th Company, the keenly awaited film directed and interpreted by Fiodor Bondarciuk on the war in Afghanistan, made it possible to experience the high technological quality of the October’s “aula magna”. The close-ups of a cruel conflict fought amidst spectacularly harsh landscapes gave their best results on the 25-metre screen, whilst the sound system, installed according to THX specifications and equipped with top JBL speakers, made it possible to experience the emotions of perilous helicopter flights. In this film, which was released in Russian theatres on 29 September with an exceptional number of prints (450), spectators have the chance to re-interpret the war concentrating on the courage and heroism of the Russian soldiers, and the exhibitors to obtain a new success with a domestic movie of popular appeal. Following in the wake of Turkish Gambit (319 prints and 18.6 million dollars since its release on 16 February 2005 – an all-time record for Russian box office) and State Counselor (316 prints and 7.1 million dollars since its release on 22 March 2005), these are the films that have allowed the Russian market to grow, even in a year like 2005 that has proved difficult throughout the world.

Elisabetta Brunella