After a few years of record-breaking growth, Russia’s film industry took a break in 2019. Many analysts attribute this to stagnating incomes, but it seems an even bigger issue is the failure of this year’s lineup to really capture Russian values and imaginations. Much like in 2018, the films that did best are those that can be seen to be distinctly Russian. Three New Year comedies on the list capitalized on the fact that the long New Year holidays are held strongly in the Russian identity and, in addition, are Russia’s major film release season. The top five are rounded out with an action-drama about a WWII heroes and an animated film about folk heroes, two genres that have long held place in Russia’s top lists of modern movies (and are perhaps now wearing out their marketability in their current forms). Beyond these five, the ranking films are those that could have been produced anywhere – including Hollywood. This helps explain why they couldn’t compete as well with similar, bigger-budget movies from Hollywood…
Also worth mention are two flops from this year. The first, Abigail, was an ambitious steam-punk dystopia, which viewers complained was mostly a boring reformulation of the adolescent magic-adventure genre with nothing new to offer. The second, Viy 2: Journey to China, was an even more ambitious sequel to Russia’s biggest cult horror film, Viy. It brought in Chinese funding and even cast Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan in supporting roles. It the end, however, it delivered only lackluster responses and disappointing revenues.
Russia’s nine highest-grossing films from 2019 are listed below.
Т-34 – T-34
$33,340,329 + 9,055,821 viewers across the CIS
In 1944, a group of Russian soldiers escaped from German captivity in a half-destroyed T-34 tank. The movie showcases times of memorable courage, strength, and miracles.
Полицейский с Рублёвки. Новогодний беспредел – Rublyovka P.D.: Holiday Chaos
$26,267,626 + 6,687,080 viewers across the CIS
On the eve of the new year, the Barvikha Severnoe police station is threatened with closure. To save his own department, a police officer, Grisha, is forced to take extreme measures and, together with operatives, decides to rob a bank. He is counting on the fact that his colleagues, will easily be able to return the money back and everyone will keep their job. But everything does not going the way Grisha planned it…
Ёлки Последние – Christmas Trees. Final
$10,604,450 + 2,921,363 viewers across the CIS
The film contains new adventures of the characters of the Christmas Tree series on the eve of the New Year. In the final instalment of the series, a girl with two children saves a lonely grandfather, a teenager helps her family friend propose to her divorced mother, Boris attempts to stop his best friend, Zhenya, from moving to Yakutia, and many more stories intertwine as the movie unfolds.
Полицейский с Рублевки. Новогодний беспредел 2 – Rublevka P.D.: New Year’s Mayhem 2
$10,322,906 + 2,518,895 viewers across the CIS
It’s New Year time and the policemen from a small town in one of Moscow’s most prestigious residential areas are about to start a celebration. However, their leisure gets interrupted by a brazen robbery in the area. Can they find the stolen jewelry and save the day before the clock strikes twelve? This movie is based on the Russian TV comedy show of the same name.
Три богатыря и Наследница престола – Three Heroes and the Heir to the Throne
$8,763,374 + 2,771,925 viewers across the CIS
A new series of adventures of beloved heroes appear in the new fairy tale movie. It all begins when the bogatyr, Dobrynia Nikitich, meets Elisha, the niece of the Prince, which enables a unique new story to unfold.
Громкая связь – Speakerphone
$8,334,193 + 2,061,673 viewers across the CIS
Seven friends gather together in a country house and begin to play a game. The game involves the participants reading out aloud all of the messages that come to their phone and answering the calls on speakerphone. As the game progresses they begin to discover new revelations about each other.
Бабушка легкого поведения 2. Престарелые Мстители – Grandmother Of Easy Virtue 2. Aged Avengers
$6,886,149 + 1,924,938 viewers across the CIS
In the continuation of the popular comedy, the audience will once again meet the charming swindler and his team of retirees who have now moved to Moscow. The swindler’s happy times, and life of luxury, suddenly comes to an end when his bank goes bankrupt because of the actions of an oligarch named Borodin. The swindler gathers together his old team of criminals once more to get revenge.
Миллиард – Billion
$6,620,900 + 1,603,548 viewers across the CIS
An influential banker is doing everything possible not to share his property with his illegitimate sons. But when his money gets stolen from him, it turns out that they are the only ones that can help him. To regain his fortune, the billionaire must rob his own bank in Monte Carlo. To do this, he will have to perform an even more difficult task: regain the trust of his children who grew up without their father….
Текст – Text
$6,144,473 + 1,490,063 viewers across the CIS
27-year-old Ilya has spent seven years in prison on false charges of drug trafficking. When released, he discovers that his old life, which he yearned for while in prison, has been destroyed, and he will no longer be able to return to it. When he again meets Peter, the man who sent him to prison, he gains access to his offender’s smartphone, and with it, to his entire life. He becomes Peter, taking over his business activities and even his correspondence with Peter’s parents and girlfriend Nina.
Warning – trailer features adult content.