June 05, 2024

Make Fairy Tales, not War


Make Fairy Tales, not War
The Aurora movie theater, St. Petersburg. The Russian Life files

According to Russian independent outlet Agentsvo, the state Cinema Fund and the Ministry of Culture have spent over R1.7 billion ($18.8 million) on fairy tale films released in 2024. This is a record and surpasses government spending on war films to be released this year.

In the first five months of 2024, Russia has released three fairy tale films: “Bremenskie muzykanty”  ("The Bremen Town Musicians"), “Letuchy Korabl” ("The Flying Ship"), and the sci-fi “100 Let Tomu Vperyod” ("100 Years Ahead"). Additionally, three more state-funded fairy tale films will be released later this year: "Vasilisa," "Ognivo" (“The Tinderbox"), and “Samaya Bolshya Luna” ("The Biggest Moon"), with the Cinema Fund spending half a billion rubles on them. In total, R2.2 billion ($24.3 billion) has been allocated for all fairy tale films released or set to be released this year.

Spending on fairy tale films has been on the rise since 2015. That year, about R200 million ($2.2 million) was spent on the genre. The share of government spending on fairy tales grew from 5.3 percent in 2015 to 36.2 percent in 2024.

In contrast, the government has spent R1 billion ($11 million) on war films. This year, five war films have been released: three about World War II, one about the commander of the Alpha special squad, and one about the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine: “Pozyvnoy 'Passazhir'" ("Code Name: 'Passenger'").

One reason for the increased funding for fairy tale films may be their greater popularity. Fantasy films released this year have gotten 15.5 million views. “Bremenskie muzykanty” was the most popular, with 8.3 million views. “Letuchiy Korabl” and “100 Let Tomu Vpered” each attracted 3.7 million viewers.

In comparison, military films drew significantly fewer viewers, totaling about 2.5 million. The most popular war film was "Vozdukh” ("Air"), directed by Alexei German Jr., about Soviet female pilots during World War II, which had 1.5 million viewers. “Komandir” ("Commander") about the commander of the Alpha special unit, attracted 490,000 viewers, and “Pozivnoy ‘Passazhyr’," about a Moscow writer who went to the war in Donbas, had 420,000 viewers.

Films about the Russian war in Ukraine have not been popular. For instance, the 2023 film “Svidetel” ("Witness”), which depicts fictitious crimes by the Ukrainian military, was watched by less than 50,000 persons, with an average attendance of five people per showing.

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