'Gambit' Sets New Box Office Record
Published: March 4, 2005 (Issue # 1049)
MOSCOW - Turetsky Gambit, (Turkish Gambit) the latest Channel One production, collected $6.5 million in ticket sales during its first week in movie theaters.
Turetsky Gambit, the latest production from the domestic film industry, looks set to break all post-Soviet box office records, beating last year's homegrown blockbuster Nochnoi Dozor, or Night Watch.
In the first week since its release on Feb. 22, Turetsky Gambit" collected $6.5 million in ticket sales in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, the film's distributor, Gemini Film International, said Tuesday.
"Turetsky Gambit" is second only to the previous first-week record set by "The Matrix Revolutions," Gemini deputy director Vadim Ivanov said. "Night Watch" reaped $5.3 million in its first week in cinemas, later becoming Russia's best selling film to date with total revenues of $17 million in 2004.
"Both impressions from the film and arithmetic suggest that it has all the chances of becoming Russia's No. 1 film," said Ivanov.
Copies of "Turetsky Gambit" have been distributed to 365 theaters, Ivanov said, while only 300 cinemas showed "Night Watch." Before the release of "Turkish Gambit," the distribution record was held by "Alexander," which was screened in 348 theaters.
"Turetsky Gambit" is a screen adaptation of Boris Akunin's book by the same title set during the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War.
One possible reason that "Turetsky Gambit" had better first-week box office results than "Night Watch" is because Wednesday was a national holiday, said Yelena Maslova, an editor of industry publication Kinobiznes Segodnya.
Another reason could be that the plot of "Turetsky Gambit" is accessible to a wider audience.
Akunin's book has sold some 1 million copies since appearing in 1998. By comparison, "Night Watch," which was also published in that year, has sold about 350,000 copies.
"Turetsky Gambit" is a movie that "friends tell me is pleasant to go to with the family," said Dzhanik Faiziyev, the film's director.
The film features the Akunin character Erast Fandorin, a sleuth who is on a mission to ferret out a mole in the Russian ranks. When a beautiful woman arrives on the scene, a romance develops between the two. "Night Watch," on the other hand, is a fantasy-thriller that centers around a twisted plot including supernatural creatures.
"Turetsky Gambit" reportedly had a production budget of $3.5 million, less than the $4 million budget that "Night Watch" had.
Impressed by the success of "Night Watch," 20th Century Fox signed a deal with the film's director Timur Bekmambetov to distribute the film internationally and cooperate with production company Channel One on a big-budget prequel.
Hollywood studios have not contacted Channel One, which also produced "Turkish Gambit," for cooperation on a Fandorin series, a Channel One spokeswoman said. "People in the movie business don't react that quickly," she said.
When asked if he would accept a cooperation offer from Hollywood, director Faiziyev said: "Hell if I know. So far, I don't know what we'd get out of it."
(see review, page x, AAT)