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Russian Cinema in Turmoil as Hollywood Pulls Out

Russian Cinema in Turmoil as Hollywood Pulls Out

Wednesday, 6 April, 2022 - 06:00
Men walk past film posters in a hallway of the giant Oktyabr cinema in Moscow. AFP

After years spent translating Hollywood films, Russian Mila Grekova was suddenly thrown out of work after Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.


Five Hollywood giants -- Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Sony Pictures and Paramount -- have all stopped releasing new films there, leaving Russian cinemas bereft of the latest blockbusters.


But it has not made Grekova turn against President Vladimir Putin.


"It's the West that I hate today and not Putin," the 56-year-old said.


"Bollywood may replace Hollywood in Russia, but it's too late for me to learn Hindi," she said, referring to India's refusal to condemn Moscow or join in with sanctions.


Russia's film industry has been thrown into turmoil by the fighting in Ukraine just as it was beginning to recover from the pandemic.


And like in many sectors hit by sanctions, the film industry is turning away from the West, looking inward to its own movies or east to Asia.


Russians are avid cinema-goers with the highest number of admission in Europe, 145.7 million last year, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory.


Many flock to see Hollywood films, which are often dubbed instead of being shown with subtitles.


Before Hollywood's withdrawal, Russian company Mosfilm-Master was dubbing around 10 foreign films a month, mostly from English.


"Now we have lost two thirds" of business, the company's director Yevgeny Belin told AFP in its high-tech dubbing studio in Moscow.


"During the pandemic, we had films but no cinemas open. Today, we have our cinemas but no films," he said.


Russia's National Association of Cinema Owners said last month that cinemas risk losing up to 80 percent of their revenue.


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