From Russia with Love

Russian exhibitors are rapidly embracing 3D projection as the popularity of Hollywood releases in the format continues to pull in auds. "The primary reason for growth in the digital screen market was the plethora of 3D films released -- a total of 19 in 2009 -- with each major 3D release generating a wave of new screen openings," says a report from cinema analysts Neva Film of St. Petersburg. Avatar accounted for 100 of new 3D screens to open before its release.

Russia has 2,131 screens in 797 cinema complexes, with 378 equipped to show 3D. Exhibitors are paying for the adoption of the technology through higher ticket prices -- last year the average Russian ticket price for 3D screenings rose from $6.20 in March to $9.60 by December. Prices for standard 2D screenings of films rose from $4.40 to $6.70 during the same period. Federally owned chains account for 40% of the 3D market.

"All digital cinema projection in Russia is being installed at exhibitors' own expense, and there isn't support either from distributors or the state," says Neva Film analyst Ksenya Leontyeva.

By Nick Holdsworth, Variety