More than a third of Russian films fail to recoup state subsidies
Every year, Russia’s Culture Ministry and Cinema Foundation allocate more than 5 billion rubles ($78.5 million) to the production of Russian motion pictures. This month, for the first time, the government has published data about these subsidies for domestic films. The numbers aren’t great. According to the released data, of the 38 movies that each received at least 100 million rubles ($1.6 million) since 2015, fourteen not only bombed at the box office, but failed to recoup their state investment.
The biggest flops were “Seven Pairs of Unclean,” a war film that got 119 million rubles ($1.9 million) in tax-payer money and earned just 1 million rubles ($15,700) in theaters, and “The Crimean Bridge: Made With Love!” a romantic comedy written by RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan that earned 70 million rubles ($1.1 million) on 100 million rubles in public funding.
The public gained access to Russia’s State Support Film Database on October 21. The archives currently go back to 2015, though Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky says the government plans to add data on ministry grants going back to 2008 and Cinema Foundation grants as far back as 2010.
Russia’s Culture Ministry has repeatedly supported initiatives to boost domestic cinema, including higher ticket prices on Hollywood films, dramatically more expensive foreign release licenses, and even quotas on foreign films in theaters. The government has also delayed the premieres of Hollywood movies that would compete with domestic releases.