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Close or only open on weekends: cinemas in the Russian provinces are in deep crisis

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Because of the crisis triggered by the withdrawal of Western film companies from the Russian market, cinemas in the country’s regions are now being forced to switch to new, shorter opening hours or to close.

The cinemas in the Russian regions are shortening their opening hours or only working on weekends, the reports TASS news agency. Some cinemas have already announced their closure due to the sharp drop in sales and the lack of Hollywood films. The regional economic officers announced this to the news agency on June 13.

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“According to estimates by cinema operators, the revenue in the first half of the year fell by 60 percent compared to the previous year. And if you compare the figures with those from 2019, the decrease is 70 percent. The same applies to cinema-goers. The opening times of the cinemas are getting shorter and shorter, not all cinemas open, and unfortunately there are also fewer and fewer staff,” explained Alexander Goncharov, Commissioner for the Protection of Entrepreneurs in the Chelyabinsk Region. According to the TASS news agency the situation is similar in other regions of Russia.

Film distribution proved to be one of the areas of culture most severely affected by Western sanctions: with the withdrawal of the large film corporations from the market, the cinemas were deprived of practically their entire film programme. The industry had almost no time to recover from the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic. All of this resulted in nearly a third of Russian cinemas closing their doors as early as April – according to the website of the Association of Cinema Operators, 36.4 percent of cinemas in the country closed in the middle of the month.

Since the anti-Russian sanctions were imposed, film distribution has also been the area receiving the least government support. And while Moscow has developed special measures to support cinema operators, such measures in the Russian regions are not yet enough.

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In the Russian capital, cinema operators can receive direct payments from the city budget to offset the cost of licensing deals to use rights to Russian films. The city has also announced that it will provide grants to promote Russian cinematography and provide partial compensation for filming on Moscow’s streets and squares. In addition, grants for filming in the city and for portraying Moscow in the film will be increased.

more on the subject Russia’s cinema industry is struggling to survive with “parallel distribution” and “alternative dubbing.”

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