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Studies & Market Reports

05 May 2012 à 15:30

French films at the Russian box office in 2011

French films registered a 40.5% rise in attendance figures compared to 2010.

The Russian theatrical market

While a government decree had imposed a single ticketing system in all Russian movie theaters in 2011, its erratic application has prevented the country's Culture Minister from accessing reliable statistics, which show great variation between the various private sources. Thus, depending on the source, the number of spectators fluctuated between 159.5 and 162 million—however, whatever the true figure may be, the figures indicate the first decline in attendance figures since 1998! Indeed, after suffering a severe drop in movie admissions between 1980 and 1997 (a year in which 36.6 million spectators were recorded, the highest figure registered since the early days of cinema in pre-revolutionary Russia), attendance rose once again thanks to the opening of new theaters and renewed enthusiasm for movie-going, a leisure activity that has nonetheless always remained a highly valued in Russia.


This slight downtrend in 2011, which was offset by a continuing rise in the number of theaters in operation (12.4% more screens were opened in 2011, twice as many as in 2006, with 1,472 digital screens, representing 54% of the total number of screens and 8% of the total number of digital screens in Europe), did not stand in the way of an overall increase in box office revenues (+9%), which can be attributed to constantly rising ticket prices (€5.2, the highest of all Eastern European countries).


Among the 925 theaters monitored, 75 were equipped with more than eight screens (representing over 25.4% of all admissions) and 568 had only one or two (accounting for 61% of all sites and 27.7% of admissions). 59% of screens were located in commercial centers. Russia does not have large-scale cinema networks: the largest operator, Cinema Park, has "only" 243 screens (9% of all screens), while the ten biggest operators handle "only" 39.4% of theaters. In this way, only 28.7% of the country's movie screens are found in Moscow and its surrounding region (556 screens) combined with St-Petersburg and its region (227). Five theaters belong to the Europa Cinemas label, including one theater that is a member of the CICAE - International Confederation of Independent Cinemas.


Half of the 109,000 prints in circulation were digital (against only one quarter of prints in 2010). The Russian theatrical market is currently the 7th largest in the world in terms of attendance figures (the 3rd largest in Europe, after France and the UK), and the 8th largest in terms of box office revenues (the 4th largest in Europe, after Germany). The downtrend in spectator numbers for local films that began in 2010 continued into 2011, with homegrown films capturing just 14.5% of the market.


The failure of many highly ambitious productions to attract big audiences and the appearance of only one Russian film in the annual Top 10 (against 3 titles in 2009 and 2 in 2010) prompted the government to recommend the imposition of a quota system, much to the displeasure of distributors and exhibitors. Russia remains nonetheless the Eastern European country that releases the largest number of new films each year (409 in 2011, with only 40% American productions), and in 2011, American films' market share fell back 5 percentage points against  2010. The five most active distributors remained the same as last year, although Disney and Central Partnership exchanged positions in the list. Further down the list of top distributors, three new operators replaced Cascade, Leopolis and Luxor Entertainment, who were relegated to a lower level in the charts this year.


According to a survey conducted by Nevafilm Research, 78.6% of Russians did not go to the movies in 2011, and of those 21.4% who did see movies, 40.8% went once or twice each month. People in the 12-24 age group represented 54.1% of all spectators, those in the 12-29 age group, 75.23%, and the over-50s, 4.2%. Finally, 73.3% of films that were not viewed at movie theaters were viewed on websites via illegal downloads (1% on legal websites), 25% on DVD, and 21.6% on free access television networks. It is worth noting that Russia now offers around 30 providers of various types offering VOD services. The majority of these are internet providers (16) and cable television services (10 in IPTV), while mobile and satellite services remain less popular at this time.


French cinema

While, grouped together, all of the films that received CNC approval saw a 40.5% rise in spectator numbers in Russia (following a steep decline in the figures between 2008 and 2009), the category of majority French productions suffered their worst year since 2000. Not one title succeeded in attracting more than 200,000 spectators, while in previous years certain titles registered far more admissions.


One film, The Three Musketeers met with considerable success, allowing French films to secure a respectable market share of 2.6%, higher than the two previous years, and to maintain its positive image. No other Eastern European country released as many French films (including minority co-productions) as Russia this year (although Poland was not far behind). Despite a slight downturn in the market, 14 distributors (as many as in Poland) handled the 41 new French titles released this year, and continue to vie for the attention of French sales agents.


Such a wide range of titles is often only seen in Russia, with certain titles not released in any other Eastern European states (such as, this year, Special Treatment, American Translation, In Gold We Trust, Nobody Else But You, and Day Off). It is important to note, however, that the most active distributor of French films over past years, Central Partnership, only released one French-language title this year. Indeed, nowadays the smaller outfits divide up the French titles between them, with the exception of large-scale commercial films which remain the reserve of the big distributors.


The rise of Karavella/Carmen since 2010 allowed this company to release six new French films in 2011, while Russian Report, the market leader in 2010, only released one title this year.

Author : Communications

Latest update : 20 October 2016 à 15:30 CEST


Linked to this news article

Linked films (6)

Related companies (8)


CNC - Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée

Activities :  Executive Producer

Activities external to film production :  Organization, Unifrance Partner

Recent filmography :


Central Partnership

Activities :  Foreign distributor (feature film), Foreign production company, Buyer (feature films)

Activities external to film production :  Foreign distributor (feature film)

Recent filmography : , Haute couture, Lost Illusions, ...

Cinema Park

Activities :  Foreign distributor (feature film)

Activities external to film production :  Foreign distributor (feature film)

Recent filmography : Chouchou


Activities :  Foreign distributor (feature film), Buyer (feature films)

Activities external to film production :  Foreign distributor (feature film)

Recent filmography : Beautiful Lies, Heartbreaker, District 13 - Ultimatum, ...


Luxor Entertainment

Activities :  Foreign distributor (feature film), Buyer (feature films)

Recent filmography : Monsieur Chocolat, Penny Pincher!, The Visitors: Bastille Day, ...


Russian Report

Activities :  Foreign distributor (feature film), Buyer (feature films)

Activities external to film production :  Foreign distributor (feature film)

Recent filmography : Dark Glasses, Happening, Memoria, ...

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