The withdrawal of Hollywood from Russia has caused havoc in Russian theatres.

Mila Grekova, a Russian who had spent years interpreting Hollywood films, was unexpectedly laid off following Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, and Paramount have all stopped releasing new films in Russia, leaving Russian theaters without the latest blockbusters.

Grekova, on the other hand, has not turned against President Vladimir Putin as a result of it.

“Today, I despise the West, not Putin,” the 56-year-old remarked.

“Bollywood may replace Hollywood in Russia, but it’s too late for me to learn Hindi,” she remarked, alluding to India’s failure to criticise Moscow or participate in sanctions.

The violence in Ukraine has thrown Russia’s film industry into disarray just as it was beginning to recover from the plague.

And, like many other industries hurt by sanctions, the film industry is turning its back on the West, focusing instead on its own films or looking east to Asia.

According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, Russians are the most frequent moviegoers in Europe, with 145.7 million admissions last year.

Many people go to see Hollywood movies, which are frequently dubbed rather than broadcast with subtitles.

– Looking to Asia –

Prior to Hollywood’s exit, the Russian business Mosfilm-Master was dubbing roughly ten foreign films per month, largely in English.

“We’ve lost two-thirds of our business,” Yevgeny Belin, the company’s director, told AFP in Moscow’s high-tech dubbing studio.

“We had movies throughout the pandemic, but no theatres were open.” “We have cinemas now, but no films,” he explained.

Last month, Russia’s National Association of Cinema Owners warned that cinemas might lose up to 80% of their revenue.

Mosfilm-Master is looking for translators from Korean and Mandarin, despite the fact that Belin “doubts that Asian films work for Russians” due to cultural differences.

“Westerners are closer to us,” claimed the 70-year-old, who has worked in dubbing for three decades.

Olga Zinyakova, president of Karo, one of Russia’s largest cinema chains, expressed confidence in the industry’s ability to recover.

“It’s a bad position, but it’s not dire,” the 37-year-old added.

“We have gone through a lot of crises since Hollywood arrived in post-Soviet Russia 30 years ago: political, economic, and epidemic,” she added, surrounded by vacant seats in Moscow’s Oktyabr cinema, which has Europe’s largest screening room with 1,500 seats.

– Russian identity –

According to Zinyakova, the number of tickets sold at Karo’s 35 cinemas has decreased by 70% since the crisis began on February 24.

As it seeks to replace Hollywood films with more domestic content, the Russian government has given significant financial support and tax incentives to film production and cinemas.

“Russians will go deeper within themselves,” Zinyakova said, citing the success of Russian films from the 1990s, such as the cult film “Brat” (“Brother”), which is currently running in numerous Moscow cinemas.

Zinyakova is also planning to release additional Asian and Latin American films in the near future.

“And when Hollywood returns, the Russian market and viewers will be different,” she said.

It’s no surprise, said Pavel Doreuli, a 44-year-old sound designer who works on roughly 15 Russian films a year, that Hollywood has gone out of Russia.

“For years, big politics has held world cinema hostage,” he claimed, adding that major film festivals such as Cannes and Berlin were no longer about art but about supporting “particular beliefs.”

Nonetheless, Doreuli stated that it would be a pity for Russia to be cut off from global cinema, citing the absence of official Russian delegations from this year’s Cannes film festival as an example.

“If they are not allowed to participate in foreign festivals, Russians would abandon arthouse cinema, which provides a different perspective on the world, which is so valuable today,” he stated.

Categorized as Gist

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