Ban Of ‘Child 44’: Russia Distrib Files Appeal – Update

By Ali Jaafar, Anita Busch

UPDATED, 11:50 PM: Child 44‘s film distributor in Russia, Central Film Partnership, is appealing the ban of the Tom Hardy-starring film in hopes to have the film play to Russian audiences. Only if the ban is lifted, will the film about be able to play in that all-important territory. Whether they will edit the film to get the ban lifted is another issue. Lionsgate has an output agreement with Central Partnership for all Summit label films in Russia so they can’t just drop out as distributor. Could Lionsgate have anymore trouble in the country? Those in Russia were heavily involved in the bootlegging of its Expendables 3 franchise which was pirated prior to its release last summer. Child 44, is of course, was sold by Lionsgate’s Summit in 2011. Also, Lionsgate’s Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 took a beating at the box office when the ruble dropped against the dollar. Stay tuned.

PREVIOUSLY, 9:50 AM: Russian authorities have blocked the release of Child 44 only days before it was set to open in cinemas in the country after the Ministry of Culture complained about what it described as “”distortion of historic facts and wilful interpretation of events … as well as images and characters of Soviet citizens of the period.”

The film, directed by Daniel Espinosa and starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, is adapted from Tom Rob Smith’s novel about a series of grisly child murders set in the Stalin-era Soviet Union.  A statement on the Ministry of Culture’s website indicated that the film’s distributor Central Film Partnership had agreed to cancel the release of the film given its proximity to Russian celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War 2.

The joint statement issued by the Ministry and Central Partnership says the distributor decided to withdraw seeking a license to release the film after a screening of the film yesterday for government officials.  There was no word in the statement as to whether the film would be considered for release at a later date.

Central Partnership’s general director Pavel Stepanov said in press release: “Central Partnership bought rights to Child 44 as part of a package deal with Summit back in 2011. We suggested changes at the script, production and overdubbing stages, but we weren’t satisfied with the end result.

Last August, a Russian government official threatened to introduce legislation banning any foreign films that “demonized” Russia or its citizens. Eventually no bill was passed.

Child 44 is opening in a limited run of around 500 spots stateside this weekend for Lionsgate. The film starts its international rollout this weekend in about 20 markets which will include UK, Brazil and France. Scott Free produced the film, with Summit/Lionsgate financing.



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