Russian Culture Minister Renews Call for Foreign Films Quota

The Hollywood Reporter

Anti-U.S. media rhetoric may be toned down in Russia in the wake of the U.S. presidential election win of Donald Trump, but Hollywood is facing more talk about possible protectionist measures in the country.

Vladimir Medinsky, Russia's culture minister, on Sunday called for strict measures aimed at protecting local films against Hollywood and foreign releases. "Without harsh protectionist measures for local cinema, for local production companies, we won't be able to build an industry and protect our market from Hollywood and other similar products," he said on national TV network TV Center.

Medinsky suggested that a model similar to that used in France could be introduced in Russia, with a minimum quota for local releases. "French cinema accounts for up to 40 percent of all releases in France, it is completely protected," he said. "For them, cinema is a code for the nation, one of its major ideas."

The Russian government has been discussing restrictions for Hollywood and foreign releases for several years. When the relations between Russia and the U.S. deteriorated following Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian rebels in East Ukraine in 2014, the idea of restrictions on Hollywood movies on ideological grounds was widely voiced. But no measures were introduced, and talk about them had subsided as of late.

In the wake of Trump's election, Russian officials and legislators toned down their anti-U.S. statements and said they hoped the relations between the two countries would "reboot." Some industry observers last week suggested this might also be good news for entertainment companies' Russian operations and could mean no renewed calls for quotas or other curbs.

However, there continue to be financial reasons for calls to protect homegrown movies as local releases have been doing badly this year, and two highly anticipated ones, Duelyant (The Duelist) and Ledokol (The Icebreaker), recently fell shy of expectations. That means that Russian films have so far failed to reach a 20 percent share of total box office in the country this year as targeted by the cultural ministry.

Through September of this year, the box-office share of homegrown movies stands at 18 percent. In 2015, that share of local films reached only 15 percent, compared with 17 percent in 2014 and 19 percent in 2013.

Read more: Russian Media Turns Friendlier to U.S. After Trump Election Victory