In order to avoid sanctions, Russian cinemas resort to streaming Hollywood movies from illegal torrent sources.
After Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, many major Hollywood studios announced the suspension of new film releases in Russia. However, some films from these companies have recently been shown in Russian cinemas, albeit illegally. The movies come from downloads on torrent sites.
Film studios such as Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros and Sony have canceled film releases in Russia for the foreseeable future. They left Russian movie channels without American blockbusters. According to the Russian Association of Cinema Operators, domestic film productions would not be attractive enough to fill the void.
For Russian filmmakers, the sudden change came after the Ukrainian film academy launched a petition on change.org in late February calling for a large-scale boycott of the Russian film industry. “The Council of Europe should exclude Russia from the Eurimages funding program”It said.
Showing Pirate Movies as an Illegal Solution to Problems
As The New York Times reports, some cinemas in Russia are now openly showing pirated films. Others, however, would be more cautious. These allowed individuals to rent rooms to show films for free or against payment. Thus, a group would have rented several projection rooms in a cinema in Yekaterinburg. They then offered tickets to “The Batman” for a fee via social media.
Moreover, in Ivanovo, a city near Moscow, the torrent version of “The Batman” can be seen in at least one cinema. In Makhachkala, capital of the Dagestan region in the Caucasus, a cinema is showing Don’t Look Up, and in Chita, a town near the border with Mongolia, parents can take their children to Disney’s Turning Red and Pixar, see .
Such screenings are the latest attempt by Russian cinemas to survive. Before the war in Ukraine, films made in the United States accounted for about 70% of the Russian film market, according to state media.
Despite these efforts, according to the Russian Association of Cinema Operators, ticket sales in March fell by about half compared to the same period last year. The group represents 700 cinemas and 2,600 screens across the country. The association believes that the collapse of the entire film industry is imminent. With forecasts of an 80% loss of income, the association applied for aid from the Ministry of Education.
Movie piracy has a long tradition
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, piracy was the main entry point for Hollywood movies in Russia, reports The New York Times. Films recorded on VHS tapes were sold in local markets. These were often recorded with a portable camcorder in a cinema. Continuing a Soviet tradition, dubbing actors dubbed films into Russian with a delay. Often one speaker voiced all the male characters and another speaker voiced the women.
Illegal distribution channels only dried up with the opening of the first Western-style cinema in Moscow in 1996. This was determined by a study by the Social Science Research Council. In the early 2000s, Russians flocked to theaters to see legally distributed global hits like Avatar and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. According to the Motion Picture Association, Russia became the ninth-largest foreign market at the box office.
Habbilen Halychev, 25, a theater manager and artist who organizes torrent screenings, told The New York Times that he was trying to
“recreate the atmosphere of the subway by placing a projector in the middle of the room between rows of mismatched chairs. Two months ago, that would have been impossible. Now you can torrent a movie, sell tickets, and then what happens? There are no consequences.”
The Russian Association of Cinema Operators Criticizes Torrent Screenings
According to TorrentFreak, a statement from the association of cinema exhibitors states:
“The illegal public showing of pirated, or rather stolen, copies of films in cinemas takes Russian cinema out of the legal arena and takes us back to the dark days of the illicit trade of the 1990s.
We understand that such cases are mainly caused by panic in the industry due to the lack of an effective government response to the current plight of Russian cinemas and the short-term inability of the Russian film industry to offer interesting spectacular films made accessible. to a large cinematographic audience despite the impressive support given to the film industry at the expense of the state budget.
We condemn the practice of illegal screening of films in Russian cinemas and call on the entire professional film community to put an end to such practices.”
The association does not see the solution in the distribution of films in torrent. Instead, they want to bring classic Russian movies back to the big screen. They would also work to screen Indian, South Korean and foreign films to replace lost Hollywood favorites. However, the organization has indicated that these strategies will not cover more than 10% of lost revenue.
About Antonia Frank
Antonia has been an author at Tarnkappe since January 2016. She started with book reviews. In the meantime, she prefers to write about legal topics, like P2P business, but she also tackles other internet topics, like cybercrime. His interests are mainly related to literature.