Will new licence fees spell extinction for foreign indie films in Russia?

Will new licence fees spell extinction for foreign indie films in Russia?
Still from Café Society, 2016, dir. Woody Allen

2 May 2017

Russia’s Culture Ministry plans to drastically increase the exhibition licence fee for foreign film releases in the country — what will this mean for independent movies?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the proposed price hike would see the exhibition licence fee for each film jump from 3,000 rubles ($53) to 5 million rubles ($88,420), making it near impossible for most indie film distributors to profit from a Russian release.

Although officials have sought to calm fears by assuring that some screens will be exempt from the fee increase, local film experts are not convinced.

“Certainly, if the ministry goes ahead with its plans, there will be no more independent distributors in the Russian market,” said Sergei Spiridonov, general director of film distributor Volga, which distributed Russia’s top indie film of last year, Café Society (dir. Woody Allen).

Alexander Semenov, publisher and editor of Russian industry journal Kinobusiness Today, believes that the measured are fuelled by the poor performance of local releases at the box office. Under the new licence fee framework, exhibition fees would remain at the current level for domestic films, giving local releases a boost relative to foreign movies.

While the exact date has not yet been revealed, the plans are expected to come into force later this year.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter