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'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)





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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