Russia’s ‘Stalingrad’ Is a Hit on Screen

tags: Stalingrad, movies Russia




MOSCOW — Like any Hollywood premiere, there were the feted starlets in sparkling gowns and directors in tailored suits working the red carpet. But there were others, too: an aide to President Vladimir V. Putin, the head of Moscow’s Department of Culture, military men in black tie with rows of medals hanging from their chests. They had come for the opening of “Stalingrad,” Russia’s first film in Imax 3-D and the most successful movie here since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The love story set on the apocalyptic backdrop of the German-Soviet Battle of Stalingrad, which left more than one million dead, is also Russia’s most ambitious. With about $30 million in financing, nearly the entire budget of the movie was provided in grants and investment by the government and state-backed companies. It was also highly marketed: Stills from the making of the movie were exhibited at one of the country’s premier photography galleries and movie theaters gave free tickets to World War II veterans. Even before its release in October, Russia’s Oscars committee selected “Stalingrad” as its nomination for the 2014 Academy Award for best foreign-language film.

Since opening in theaters in early October, “Stalingrad” has grossed about $50 million in Russia and eclipsed the former highest-grossing film, “The Irony of Fate: Continuation,” the 2007 sequel to a beloved Soviet comedy that Russians watch during the holidays, not unlike America’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” For the country’s producers, directors and bureaucrats, who for years have complained about the Russian film industry’s poor production values and anemic receipts, “Stalingrad” is the greatest success story yet of an effort to engineer the “socially meaningful blockbuster.”...



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