The unrest in Ukraine and Crimea is trumping the Best Picture battle, at least on major broadcaster. Channel One Russia said Sunday that won’t be showing tonight’s Academy Awards live as planned so it can follow the news …
With the box office booming in Russia, local cinema chain Karo Film says it is investing $150M to fund an expansion program which will include the building of several next-generation movie theaters. Karo is already at work on what it says is Russia’s “most technically advanced cinema complex,” the Karo Vegas 22 Megaplex in Crocus City in southern Moscow. The opening is set for July this year with multiple premium large format rooms, Luxe RealD Experience rooms, five VIP screening areas with concierge service, bowling lanes and restaurants. Karo also plans to open two other multiplexes in Moscow this year, including the country’s second-largest cinema, Karo AviaPark, with 18 screens. Elsewhere, the exhibitor is in late-stage negotiations to break ground on new complexes in St. Petersburg and Siberia in the summer of 2015 with planned openings in early 2016. Of the $150M, $22M will be used to upgrade existing venues, and on increasing IT capabilities and infrastructure. Karo currently has 28 sites with 189 screens.
TCA: NBC Will Wait And See About Covering Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws During Winter Games, But Takes Firm Stand Against Monkey-Comedy Interruptions
NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus tried to split the baby and wound up butchering it this afternoon at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013, when he said the network’s upcoming coverage of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi “comes with political and social issues” which NBC will address — “as they are relevant at the time of the game, as has always been the case.” Then, without missing a beat, he began to “we cannot wait to get to Sochi, very optimistic about the U.S. team, biggest Winter Olympics ever,” blah blah, blah, while TV critics in the hall tried to recover from the whiplash. Russia’s newly-adopted anti-gay laws have some calling for NBC to boycott the Games (The International Olympic Committee has said it will “work to ensure” that LGBT athletes competing in the games will not face danger or legal issues).
Among those calling for boycott, HRC President Chad Griffin reportedly wrote a letter to NBCUniversal CEO Stephen Burke, saying the media conglom has a “responsibility to expose this inhumane and unjust law to the millions of American viewers who will tune in to watch the Games.” Griffin said it would be wrong for NBCU “to air the opening ceremonies, which is an hours-long advertisement for the host country, without acknowledging that a whole segment of the Russian population — not to mention foreign athletes and visitors — can be jailed for an immutable aspect of their identity.”
NBC’s response – at the Press Tour anyway — was Lazarus’s baby-splitting act: “The IOC has addressed it with the Russian government and has been assured athletes, fans, and the media there will not be any issues with regard to what takes place during the Games,” he said.
CULVER CITY, Calif., April 16, 2013 – STALINGRAD, the first Russian-made feature to be released in the immersive IMAX® 3D format, will be distributed in Russia by Sony Pictures Releasing International.
An epic love story set during one of the most devastating battles in modern history, STALINGRAD’s teaser trailer will be screened for the first time in the U.S. on April 17, 2013at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, when Sony makes its annual presentation at CinemaCon. The announcement was made today by Rory Bruer, president of Worldwide Distribution for Sony Pictures Releasing, and Alexander Rodnyansky, head of A.R.Films and producer of STALINGRAD. The deal was negotiated by Paul Heth of Monumental Pictures.
The movie was shot completely on location in Russia; it is directed by Fedor Bondarchuk and produced by Alexander Rodnyansky and Sergey Melkumov for Non-Stop Production and Dmitry Rudovsky for Art Pictures. The film is written by Iliya Tilkin and Sergey Snezhkin. The release date in Russia will be announced shortly.
After doubling their box office takings over the past five years, the BRIC countries will see combined revenues of $12.1B and account for 25% of global sales by 2017, according to research group IHS. That would put the Big Four on a par with where IHS expects the North American box office to be at that time. (It was $10.8B in 2012.) Driving growth are increased ticket prices and new construction — China is building cinemas daily and is expected to have about 20,000 screens by 2015 alone. IHS analyst Charlotte Jones also noted the loosening of quotas in China for 3D and IMAX films, the popularity of premium pics in Russia and the rise of shopping centers in Brazil as market drivers.
After announcing in August that it plans to open a theme park in Shanghai by 2016, DreamWorks Animation today unveiled plans for Russia. The company has partnered with property development and management firm Regions GC to build what is promised to be Europe’s largest indoor theme parks. The attractions in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg are expected to be completed in 2015 and are planned as year-round “entertainment zones” — the indoor placement designed to avoid weather being an issue.
Each complex will incorporate a movie and concert hall, 4D movie theater, three-star 400-room hotel and retail space. DreamWorks Animation properties to be featured include Shrek, Madagascar, How To Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda and the upcoming garden snail adventure Turbo, which will bow in Russia on July 11 ahead of its U.S. debut.
Russian box office jumped 8% in 2012 for over $1.2B in takings and DWA movies are popular there. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is the second-highest-grossing animated film in Russian history and the fourth-biggest film of all time. “Russia is one of the most important markets in the world for us,” said CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “All of us at DWA are extremely excited to work with Regions CG to be the first Hollywood studio to create not just one, but three, theme parks in Russia.”
Moscow, December 13, 2012 – A consortium backing the Moscow based media entrepreneur Paul Heth and consisting of the lead investor Baring Vostok Private Equity, UFG Private Equity and the Russian Direct Investment Fund, announces an investment in Karo Film, one of Russia’s leading cinema chains. The consortium will acquire a controlling shareholding in the company and will additionally support a circa $100 million investment initiative to open new multiplex cinema venues under the Karo brand over the next three years.
Paul Heth has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Karo Film. Mr. Heth brings 20 years of development and senior operating experience in the international and Russian cinema industry. Mr. Ogorodnikov and his business partner Oleg Andreev, co-founders of Karo Film will both retain significant stakes in the business. Mr. Ogorodnikov will also continue to serve as its Chairman.
Miramax is making a move into Russia with its first deal to stream classic movies in the hot market. A multi-year subscription VOD partnership will see Russian multimedia entertainment services company Stream offer Miramax library titles including Kill Bill, From …
With the deadline for submitting films in the Foreign Language Oscar race looming, the competition is taking shape. Some 44 films have been entered by Deadline’s count. Last year, 65 films were entered, so expect 20 or so more to be announced. After the October 3rd cutoff, the Academy’s Foreign Language Executive Committee, led by Oscar-winning producer Mark Johnson (Rain Man) will vet the list and approve the final rundown before the 3-month screening process begins to pick 9 finalists and the eventual 5 nominees. Already, Johnson has indicated to me there is controversy. Albania has entered The Forgiveness of Blood, the hit at Telluride and Toronto directed by LA-born and -bred Joshua Marston. Apparently, other Albanian filmmakers are balking at the nationality of the movie’s helmer. It will be up to the committee to determine whether the film has enough Albanian elements to qualify despite being in the unique situation of having an American director (and co-writer). The very internationally inclined Marston had the official 2004 Colombian entry, Maria Full of Grace, before it was disqualified for not being Colombian enough. It did eventually win a Best Actress nod for Catalina Sandino Moreno.
The Russians are also squabbling over their official entry, Nikita Mikhalkov’s Burnt By the Sun 2: Citadel, the sequel to his 1995 Oscar-winning foreign language film. Even though the full Russian Oscar selection committee voted for it, Mikhalkov has been “burnt” by committee head Vladimir Menshov, who is against putting the critical and box office flop forward to the American Academy. (Despite a $45 million budget, it grossed only $1.5 million). He is awaiting Mikhalkov’s formal response to his request that he pull the film. He has until October 1, according to the Russian rule book.
China’s choice of three-time nominee Zhang Yimou’s (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, Hero) period epic The Flowers of War (formerly known during production as Heroes of Nanking), starring Oscar winner Christian Bale, is China’s most expensive film ever. It’s reportedly 40% English-language and 60% Mandarin, which lets it squeak by under Academy rules. Twenty minutes of footage from the film, which opens its regular run December 16 in China, was shown to buyers and press in Toronto and was well-received. Executive producer and former Universal Pictures honcho David Linde told me in Toronto that if the film gets a domestic distribution deal in time, it is entirely possible to open in the U.S. to qualify for all categories – presumably including a Best Actor bid for Bale. (Linde was non-committal on that, so we will have to wait and see.) If it gets nominated and the film is held from American release until next year, that would make it ineligible for other categories in 2012.
Among the countries still waiting to be heard from are frequent nominees Italy, Spain and Turkey. I fully expect those countries to select films that were all in the official competition in Cannes this year: Italy’s Habemus Papam from Nanni Moretti; Turkey’s Cannes Grand Prize winner Once Upon a Time in Anatolia from director Nuri Bilge Ceylan; and Spain’s The Skin I Live In, the first “horror” effort from two-time Oscar winner Pedro Almodovar. The latter has had a spotty track record with the Spanish Academy that makes the selections, but the rift is said to have eased. If they are in their right mind, they will certainly select Skin, which I think is one of Almodovar’s best and most entertaining films.
I am a bit surprised to see Belgium select Bullhead over Cannes prizewinner The Kid With a Bike from the highly respected Dardenne Brothers and also over Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight grand prize winner, the brilliant coming-of-age story Les Geants.
France usually picks something out of the main competition in Cannes, especially because festival director Thierry Fremaux is also on France’s official Oscar selection committee. But this year the country chose the well-received film that opened the smaller Critics Week competition, Declaration of War, an emotional story of young parents trying to deal with their child’s cancer diagnosis. Perhaps after seeing the Academy ignore last year’s home-grown Cannes Grand Prize winner Of Gods and Men they decided to go in a different direction. They ignored potential candidate Polisse, which won the Jury Prize in this year’s main competition at the fest. They also passed over another French-bred competition entry, the enormously popular The Artist (which added to its laurels by winning the Audience Award today at the San Sebastian Film Festival). The black-and-white silent film set and shot in Hollywood is probably not perceived as French enough, despite the Gallic credentials of director Michel Hazanavicius and star Jean Dujardin (Best Actor in Cannes). A Weinstein Company source told me they aren’t upset as they are aiming for a Best Picture slot and don’t necessarily want the film perceived as a foreign language picture.
Highlights among other official selections so far:
A report today from the UK’s Financial Times headlined “Disney Axing Local Language Film Unit” wasn’t really news for most in Hollywood and certainly not Burbank. Disney backed away from its strategy of producing local language films with local actors and made the …