Big-Budget Russian Action Pic ‘Chernobyl’ Sells To North America

'Chernobyl' Central Partnership

EXCLUSIVE: Chernobyl the big-budget Russian action drama about the titular nuclear disaster, has been acquired by Capelight Pictures for North America and German-speaking territories, with the company partnering with MPI Media Group on the U.S. release.

Moscow-based sales agent Central Partnership continued sales efforts on the title during the Cannes online market last week, as well as the Russian Virtual Content Market earlier last month. The pic has now also sold to South Korea (PoongKyung), Latin America (BF Distribution), Japan (Twin), Israel (Shoval Film), Spain (Mediaset) and Baltics (Latvian Theatrical Distribution).

Chernobyl does a terrific job of educating audiences on such an important time in history. We are thrilled to be able to bring this film to North American screens,” said Hamza Ali, Executive Vice President, MPI Media Group.

Billed as the first major Russian feature about the aftermath of the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, when hundreds of people sacrificed their lives to clean up the site of the catastrophe, the large-scale movie follows a fireman, an engineer and a military diver who embark on a perilous mission to drain water from a reservoir under the burning reactor.

The pic was previously titled Chernobyl: Abyss.

Producers include the Oscar-Nominated Alexander Rodnyansky and Sergey Melkumov (Leviathan), Central Partnership’s Vadim Vereshchagin, Rafael Minasbekyan, and Danila Kozlovsky, who also directed.

Rodnyansky said the U.S. deal on the title was “testament to the international appeal” of the story, which has been enhanced by the recent HBO series.

“For me this film is especially important as I was an eyewitness to the immediate aftermath of the accident and both to me and our director Chernobyl is an effort to immortalize the people who gave their lives trying to save not only Russia, but Europe from the consequences of the worst manmade catastrophe in history,” added Rodnyansky.

“Obviously the US public now is very much aware of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, in many ways the outstanding series by HBO paved the way for other directors to share their stories of this historic event. But while Craig Maizin’s series focused on a larger picture of how lies begets tragedies, our film tells a more specific story. Danila Kozlovsky’s Chernobyl is a film about human courage and sacrifice. We strived to tell a personal story about the lives of ordinary people who had to bear the consequences of the disaster,” the producer explained.

“I want as many people to come and watch our movie in cinemas, but the most important thing is not for them to come and see kind of “the unique way we filmed the underwater scenes”. I’d like for them to see and hear our story about those people and their heroism, about how this disaster struck and turned ordinary people into heroes,” said director Kozlovsky. “For me, as a director and producer, the American audience is incredibly important.”

“We are glad that U.S. buyers showed interest towards our film. This deal is a new step in fulfilling our strategy: strengthening the position of Russian cinematography in the international landscape. We will continue the expansion of Russian content into the worldwide market,” added Central Partnership’s Vereshchagin; the company will continue sales at the upcoming markets Toronto and AFM.

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