Twists and Turns

Russia’s Top Movies: February 2011

Published: February 28, 2011

Like most places in the world, Russia’s silver screens are dominated by Hollywood’s global blockbusters. Russia’s film industry has struggled with the financial crisis, but is also capable of producing films that can occasionally compete locally with the American machine. Once a month, SRAS provides a lineup of the top five movies in Russia by box office take—with the official Russian-language trailers from YouTube and, for those Russian films on the list, links to our Russian film site.

Below are films listed with their English and Russian titles (note that they differ sometimes), as well as how much the film has earned over the calendar month.


1. ВыкрутасыVykrutasy (Twists and Turns)—$9.9m


2. СанктумSanctum—$8.4m

The choice of the transliterated name here is interesting, as Russian dictionaries do not contain the word “санктум.” In Russian, it would translate as “святая святых”—or “Holy of Holies”—and would refer specifically to the most holy part of a church, the area beyond the iconostasis. The English, of course, while having religious meaning, is most often received as simply referring to a place offering spiritual solitude and peace. Perhaps because Russia is generally much more conservative on religious issues, and to avoid the direct reference (and yet keep the branding consistent), the distributors here have transliterated rather than translated the name.


3.  Зеленый шершеньThe Green Hornet—$6.5m

No surprises here—a direct translation of the English original.


4. Гномео и Джульетта—Gnomeo and Juliet—$5m 

Also no surprises. This transliteration works in Russian because the name of Shakespeare’s play is essentially the same in Russian (Ромео и Джульетта), transliterated with Juliet’s name altered slightly to make it distinctly feminine. Also, the word for “gnome” is equivalent in Russian (гном), except for the fact that Russians pronounce the “g/г,” as Russian does not have silent letters (and thinks it bewildering that English does!).


5. Орел девятого легионаThe Eagle—$3.9m 

This film was widely released under the name The Eagle. Perhaps because the eagle already has majestic and patriotic connotations in America, this simpler version is more effective. In Russia, however, they have chosen a name closer that of the original book, The Eagle of the Ninth (which is a variant of the name used in some other locations). In Russian, this would directly translate to “Орел девятого.” The marketers have also given a nod to Russia’s desire to generally be more precise and added the answer to the question “Орел девятого чего?”

About the author

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad Programs

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