In response to the new Russian invasion of Ukraine, several Hollywood studios have announced the immediate cessation of new films in Russia. Among those who abandoned the Russian market were Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros., and Sony. Netflix, Spotify and similar services also left the aggressor’s country.
In response, the Russian Association of Cinema Owners issued a statement describing the collapse of the entire film industry in the country, which may happen soon. However, in mid-April, posts in the popular Russian VK and Telegram showed that some cinemas are going to resume showing Hollywood movies. Including those that should not be available.
In just a few days, shows in Russian cities were in full swing. A special event dedicated to a new film about Batman took place on April 21 at the WIP Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow. Tickets cost about 500 rubles, and the organizers designed the show as an artistic performance with a comment on the withdrawal of Hollywood from the Russian market.
The source of the film, of course, was unofficial. The pirated copy together with the Russian dubbing was downloaded from an unnamed torrent site. With the help of the same or a similar source, additional film shows took place at several other venues.
Due to the fact that film piracy is illegal in Russia, some cinemas are trying to use various covers for their shows. For example, the Greenwich Cinema in Yekaterinburg claims that the Batman advertisement was published by the organizers of the event, who allegedly rent their halls.
“Illegal public display of pirated, or rather stolen, copies of films in cinemas takes Russian film business out of the legal arena and takes us back to the dark days of illegal business in the 1990s…We condemn the practice of illegally showing films in Russian cinemas and call on the entire professional film community to prevent such practices,” said the Russian Association of Cinema Owners.
However, mass piracy, like the country’s aggression, is becoming commonplace in Russia and, unfortunately, it is unlikely that Western companies can do anything about it.