Must be tough for Vladimir Putin to catch a showtime because he’s calling for Russia to double the number of movie theaters in the country.

Citing the need to “ensure equal access to the arts for the population,” he’s stated that the 2,200 theaters centered in 137 cities in the nation are just not enough, and that there should be at least twice that many in the country. THR picked up on the statement in a Russian newspaper covering Putin’s appearance at the Russian State Film Archive during a conference. The focus of the conference was apparently overall development of the film industry, a major priority in a number of larger countries in the world like Russia and China, who seek to become bigger players in the Western-dominated cinema scene. Putin’s comments were more focused on increasing accessibility to film on a general basis, but that would likely increase the general population’s hunger for movies, thereby increasing support for more Russian production.

Unfortunately for Putin and potential Russian filmgoers, the economic realities of the world do not shine favorably on any such plan to dramatically increase Russian movie screen counts. A marketing director of Kinomax assured THR that’s not realistic or even possible given the generally shitty economy of the world as well as the poor market for credit and property in Russia. Also, she strategically notes the lack of a national fund for digital screen conversion in Russia, though they have such a thing in places like the US.

This comes in sharp contrast to the American movie theater landscape which has actually managed to stiff-arm the rotten economy and pursue avenues for making movie-going less affordable! It was just last week that the largest theater chain in the country, Regal, signed a deal with Real-D to convert an additional 1,500 of their screens to 3D- doubling the deal they made in 2008. That will mean about 40% of Regal’s screen will be 3D-capable by the time the deal is done.

It continues to baffle me how successfully the major chain movie theaters have been able to exploit “the premium movie experience” in such economically shitty times. That said, it must be much worse to be a film-lover inhabiting a country whose limited screens are like butter spread over too much bread. Doubling the theater-count may be unrealistic, but perhaps Putin’s words can light some kind of fire under some company’s ass and spark more theater construction. Good luck comrades.

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