Ukrainian Movies Box Office In 2014-2015

Disregarding all the political and military events Ukrainian cinema slowly approaches the point of breaking even. There were several releases in both 2014 and 2015 made with Ukrainian co-finance which paid off and generated some profit. In the last year that was Love in a big city 3 (Кохання у великому місті 3), co-produced with Russia, and a feature documentary Maidan (Майдан), co-produced with the Netherlands. The former gained 5 times it’s budget in box offices not taking into account the TV and online sales.

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In the case of the latter – Maidan – it paid off due to its low budget (95K EUR) and the high interest to its subject matter. These factors contributed to the prolific festival life of the picture and releases in many countries. The exact box office is not revealed since the distribution continues but, as the director Serhiy Loznitsa puts it, the movie broke even.

The box office of the movies Single by contract (Самотний за контрактом), Do you love me? (Ти мене кохаеш?) and Credenza (Креденс) are not revealed either. Having in mind those pictures were released with a limited number of copies and have had scarce coverage on TV and in foreign markets it is most likely they’ve never broke even.

In the year 2014 Ukrainian citizens have spend around 860M UAH (ca. 37M EUR). The total box office of the domestic movies has comprised around 90M UAH (4M EUR) that is 9%. Half of this amount was earned by Viy (Вій) and around quarter by Love in the big city 3.

2014 Box Office

Title Release date Budget Box office
Love in a big city 3 Jan 1 $2.7M CIS $15.88M
Credenza Jan 23 5M UAH n/a
Viy Jan 30 $26M World $39.5M, Ukraine $4.6M
Kyiv Cake Feb 20 $865K 150K UAH
Green Blouse Mar 20 6.85M UAH 14K UAH
Trumpeter Mar 27 16M UAH 400K UAH
Synevyr Apr 3 $375K World $340K, Ukraine $50K
Do you love me? Apr 10 n/a n/a
Maidan Jul 24 95K EUR Ukraine $25K
Single by contract Sep 4 n/a n/a
The Tribe Sep 11 $1.3M Ukraine 390K UAH
Such beautiful people Sep 23 6M UAH Ukraine 100K UAH
Our Nadiya Oct 21 n/a n/a
F63.9 Love Disease Oct 30 12M UAH 500K UAH
The Guide (Povodyr) Nov 12 16.6M UAH $904K
Babay Dec 18 7.1M UAH Ukraine 1.9M UAH, CIS $18K

In the year 2015 there were also two releases which broke even. One is, again, a documentary about Maidan events titled All things ablaze (Все палає). The second is a war drama biopic Unbreakable (Незламна), co-produced with Russia.

Non-ficitonal political chronicle of 2013-2014 All things ablaze directed by Oleksandr Techynsky, Oleksiy Solodunov and Dmytro Stoykov was entirely driven by the passion of its creators. That’s why the actual production expenses were minimal. “We’ve spent around 3K EUR for the postproduction. This doesn’t include all the cash expenses for filming itself as well as many other things. We were enthusiastic. Beside that, many people helped us for free. If you take into account all that help it would be much more than 3K, – points out Oleksandr Techynsky. Ukrainian release of the movie has grossed only 8660 UAH. However, the picture has paid off all the invested money, says producer Yulia Serdyukova. “Cash expenses repaid right away after the acquisition by Arte channel. If we account for all the deferred payments like salaries, equipment, etc – it is far from breaking even. Though, it could pay off in a couple of years through foreign sales. We do not count on Ukrainian market”, – says Yulia.

On the eve of the April, 2 release of Unbreakable its producer Yegor Olesov states: “We’ve made already several presales of TV rights. The distribution continues to do their job actively. We are close to break even, perhaps before the theatrical release.” The picture will also be exhibited in Baltic countries, Japan, China, Latin America and, perhaps, North America and several European countries.

There is no disclosed information about the TV and online sales. It is known though that the movie grossed ca. $8M in the ex-USSR countries. After the theaters take their 50% share and distributors take another 30% the producers should have around $1.6M on hands. Further, after discount of the marketing and prints expenses the producers only get the quarter of their production budget which is said to be around $5M ($4M from Ukraine, $1M from Russia).

There is also no open information about the grosses of Magic story: Kindness Potion (Волшебные истории: эликсир доброты). The advertising campaign was humble and the number of copies printed could not have made a great box office. However, the creators work on the project sequel and, obviously, are quite sure in its success. The other project which do not disclose their grosses are supposedly didn’t perform well.

Perhaps one more picture should break even due to its low budget – God’s Platoon Volunteers (Добровольці Божої Чоти). As its author Leonid Kanter puts it, the central channels’ acquisitions (or some foreign) will cover all the expenses. The movie got 100K UAH (4K EUR) in the theaters and all the money were spent on further promotion, presentations and festivals.

The box office of the Blind Dates (Побачення наосліп) should be considered as failure. However, the private equity of the Ukrainian investor was fully repaid, according to producer Olena Yershova: «This was done through several successful sales throughout the world and the festivals’ cash prizes. But the salaries are still deferred.»

A feature documentary Married to a foreigner (Замуж за иностранца) could only partially be considered as Ukrainian since the crew was Ukrainian but the finance came form an American company Powershot Production. The same applies to a musical Z-Joke wich was 100% financed by the British company Z-Joke Ltd.

2015 Box Office

Title Release date Budget Box office
Magic Story: Kindness Potion Jan 15 n/a n/a
More powerful than weapons Jan 22 n/a n/a
New Ukrainian Wave Jan 29 n/a n/a
God’s Platoon Volunteers Jan 31 n/a 100K UAH
OE. 20 Live in Kyiv Feb 26 n/a n/a
Love me Feb 26 14M UAH Ukraine 220K UAH
Blind Dates Mar 5 5.6M UAH Ukraine 70K UAH
Married to foreigner Mar 12 5.3M UAH n/a
Z-Joke Mar 26 1.8M GBP n/a
All things ablaze Mar 26 n/a Ukraine 8.7K UAH
Unbreakable Apr 2 $5M Ukraine 14M UAH, CIS $7.6M
My mermaid, my Lorelei Apr 16 $900K n/a
Deadly Alive Apr 16 n/a n/a
It’s me May 7 8M UAH 30K UAH
Hollywood over Dnipro. Atlantis Dreams May 14 2.5M UAH n/a
Great Shorts. Movies of 80-s. May 28 n/a n/a

The conclusion is not surprising:

1) Both projects which have repaid and generated profit were done in co-production. It should be mentioned that both co-production cases with Russia have been initiated before the war and annexation of Crimea. It is unlikely that similar projects could happen in coming years and the new co-production partners should be found in Europe or overseas.

2) The Maidan trend in the film is coming to an end and will not generate profits for anything bigger than no-budget.

3) Only a single movie financed by the government have performed decently in the box office. Government interference should better be directed to the debut movies and the subject of social importance.

4) All the private equity was repaid to investors disregarding overall poor performance of the movies in the theaters.

In the previous years there were several movies which touched the break even point.

The Pit (Штольня), 2006 – Occasional TV sales will perhaps allow the project reach zero point in this year. The budget was $50K. The remaining part to break even is $5K.

Love in a big city (Кохання у веліикому місті), 2009. Co-produced with Russia. Budget is $3,5M, CIS Box office is $9,1.

Love in a big city 2 (Кохання у веліикому місті  2), 2010. Co-produced with Russia. Budget is $2,5M. CIS Box office is $10,2M.

Office romance. Nowadays (Службовий роман. Наш час), 2011. Co-produced with Russia. Budget is $5M. World box office is $14,65M.

Shadows of unforgotten ancestors (Тіні незабутих предків), 2013. Budget is $877K. Ukrainian box office is $614.4K. The director Lyubomyr Levytsky says the private equity was fully repaid.

Based on the article by Anton Filatov.
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