Russian cinema has found a way to circumvent Hollywood sanctions by showing pirated films.
Trade and political sanctions continue against Russia. As Vladimir Putin continues his invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin must now do without a good number of foreign companies, which have chosen to leave the country. This is particularly the case of Hollywood production companies, which in protest have suspended their activity in the country. For several months now, blockbusters from Sony, Disney Warner Bros or Paramount and even Netflix no longer cross the Soviet border.
With 2,600 cinemas spread across the country, the industry quickly sounded the alarm about the risks associated with this programmed market collapse. The Russian Association of Cinema Owners estimates a 80% revenue loss in the coming weeks, and has already appealed to the government for help. In the meantime, some exhibitors have found a drastic temporary solution to keep their audience: showing pirated copies.
Hacking to circumvent sanctions
Deprived of The Batman, Red Alert and even Don’t Look Up (an original Netflix production), Russian cinemas seem to have found the parade. As national production is obviously not sufficient, operators have chosen to illegally stream the latest western blockbustersrelying on pirated copies unearthed on torrent sites.
Reported by the site TorrentFreak, the phenomenon seems to have started in mid-April, before intensifying. Officially, piracy is still prohibited in Russia. Even if the country is very lax on the subject, these illegal screenings have found a way to circumvent the law: officially, these are private screeningsduring which cinemas only rent their halls to third-party companies.
Faced with the situation, the entire cinema industry has stepped up to the plate, accusing Russian cinema of being out “from the legal arena to take us back to the dark days of the illegal trade of the 1990s”. Difficult for as much to know how Hollywood will be able to stop the bleeding, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict (and the related sanctions) being left to last.