Russia’s Top Movies of 2017

Published: February 12, 2018

Russia’s film industry is slowly gaining speed – with growing audiences and box office takes. 2017 proved that Russians love films about the past, films about space, and films about the past in space. Overall, it’s safe to say that the resurgence of Russia’s native film industry is riding a resurgence of Russian pride and Russian identity. It should also be mentioned that the below records have already been smashed by Going Vertical, a film released in January, 2018 about the Soviet defeat of the American basketball team in the 1972 Olympics.

Последний богатырь – The Last Knight
$30+ million and 7.8 million viewers across the CIS

Ivan, a regular guy from modern Moscow, finds himself in the fantastic country of Belogorie (which translates to “White Hills” from the Russian). In this parallel world lives the heroes of Russian fairy tales where magic is an integral part of daily life and disputes settled by the sword. Suddenly, Ivan becomes entangled in the battle between light and dark, and can’t quite figure out the role everyone believes he’s destined to play. This movie is now Russia’s highest grossing domestic hit to date. It was co-produced by Russian film studios Yellow, Black and White and Кинослово in partnership with Village Roadshow and Walt Disney. Films focusing on ancient Russia and Russian folklore are proving very popular in Russia. Russia’s last record breaker was Viking, set in 10th-century Kyiv.

Викинг — Viking
$25+ million and 5.8 million viewers across the CIS

Viking follows the story of Vladimir the Great, known as the ruler who brought Christianity to the land of Rus. The film follows him from Swedish roots, his wars with his brother Yaropolk, and his conversion. The film will soon be translated and released in more than 60 countries, including Germany and China. It has broken box office records in Russia and also courted considerable controversy. There are some departures from history and some points that are arguable. The film was released in Russia in two versions, one for viewers over 12 and one for those over 18, which features extended scenes of violence and one of rape.

Притяжение — Attraction
$18+ million and 4 million viewers across the CIS

Attraction tells of an alien spaceship that crash lands in a heavily populated Moscow district. The government declares martial law and the population soon must fight the aliens for control of Moscow. A sequel is now in the works for 2019.

Салют-7 – Salyut-7
$13.5+ million and 3 million viewers across the CIS

Based on the true story from 1985, the Salyut-7 Soviet space station, unmanned and in low Earth orbit, suddenly stops responding to signals from mission control. The electrical system fails and gravity causes the station to drift. In order to save the planet from an uncontrolled falling station, two astronauts embark on a mission that could end catastrophically; for the first time in history, they’ll attempt to successfully dock with the 20-ton unguided satellite and bring it back to life. In space, the rescue mission turns into a dangerous test.

Легенда о коловрате – Legend of the Kolovrat
$10.3+ million and 2.5 million viewers across the CIS

Thirteenth century Russia, fragmented, is about to fall to its knees in front of Khan Batu’s Golden Horde. Despite soaking the land with Russian blood, the Mongol invaders have yet to face serious resistance – until encountering the young knight from Ryazan, Yevpaty Kolowrat and his brave warriors. Ready to take revenge out of love for their family and country, his courage will amaze even Batu. The warrior will become a legend, and his name immortalized in Russian history for centuries to come.

Время первых – The Age of Pioneers
$10+ million and 2.4 million viewers across the CIS

It’s the 1960s and the height of the Cold War. In the space race with the US, the USSR is ahead, but both are racing to a next step: the first country to successfully perform a spacewalk. The USSR develops the technology first, but two weeks before the official take off, the test ship explodes during final testing. The government decides to move forward with the actual launch anyway to ensure their lead. Military pilot Pavel Belyaev and his partner Alexei Leonov are chosen to pilot the flight. Nearly everything that could went wrong…

The film was, in part, produced by Timur Bekmambetov, who has had large success in Russia (Nochnoi Dozor) and abroad (Wanted, 2008, starring Angelina Jolie). It garnered some controversy – from communists for showing Soviet leaders recklessly pushing the program forward and it coming together almost by chance, as well as from liberals who disliked the large amount of government support it received (school children were given free showings and, it was said, the Russian premier of Fast and Furious 7 was postponed by government authorities to allow the film to premier with less competition. It was released with an official English title: The Age of Pioneers. It also sometimes is referenced as “The Spacewalker.” The original Russian name would literally translate to “Time of Firsts.”

About the author

Josh Wilson

Josh has lived in Moscow since 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian with SRAS. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Home and Abroad Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik. He has previously served as Communications Director to Bellerage Alinga and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Josh Wilson