Cinema powers up as Russians take time off

Extended holidays make the first quarter of the year one of the least productive periods for the Russian economy. But box-office records are being broken at Russian cinemas as Russian relax on the days off.

Russia's developing cinema market experienced almost double digit growth in 2008. Box office revenues delivered a river of cash for producers, distributors and exhibitors. But the economic strife of 2009 has proved to be a reality check for the movie romance.

But the new year brings new beginnings, with more Russians visiting the cinema in January than ever before according to Olga Proskuryakova, PR Director for Formula Kino Cinema.

“This January has broken all the records partly due to the long holidays as well as the appeal of watching a major film with 3D technology. Revenues from movies in 3D are 3-4 times more than movies in the usual format.”

Big releases and new 3D technology at the digital multiplexes encouraged people out of their houses to enjoy what is still a relatively cheap form of entertainment, especially when the money spent is roubles, but counted in dollars. Georgy Samsonov, Editor in Chief at Russian film Business Magazine, says Rouble denominated revenues held up during the downturn.

“Revenues decreased in dollar terms. Compared to 2008, it fell from $930 million dollars to around $736 million in 2009. But at the same time the attendance increased by 5 million tickets. While the price of a ticket in rouble terms remained the same, it generated fewer dollars.”

James Cameron's space fantasy, Avatar, is the leading draw worldwide, taking more than $2 billion in the 9 weeks since its release.

The innovative new technology trick worked for Russia’s box office income – attracting more viewers despite the economic uncertainty. The long holidays in January and other upcoming holidays, may well see Russia return to industry leading growth.