Sunday, January 23, 2022

Russia’s Mars Media Celebrates 10th Anniversary: Founder Ruben Dishdishyan Talks Moving Into Film & Local Streaming Surge

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The 12 months 2021 marked 10 years within the enterprise for Mars Media, the main Russian content material firm based by Ruben Dishdishyan, who beforehand arrange and ran fellow main participant Central Partnership.

At Mars, Dishdishyan and his crew initially centered on producing TV, however have since moved extra into the movie enterprise, at a time when a lot of the trade appears to be going within the different course. The pivot to large-screen manufacturing has paid dividends, nonetheless, with its household film Palma proving an area hit, and spawning a sequel, whereas its warfare pic T-34 was each an area field workplace success and likewise made waves in China. On the horizon, Mars’ initiatives embody Woland, the $15M drama starring Inglorious Basterds actor August Diehl in a free adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s traditional novel The Master and Margarita.

Deadline sat down with Dishdishyan to forged our eyes again over a decade of working within the Russian market. We additionally talk about the inflow of the streamers into the native trade, and whether or not the Russian content material biz is maturing to the extent that we might see a Squid Game-size hit emerge from the nation within the coming years.

DEADLINE: Congratulations in your 10-year anniversary – what have been the highlights?

RUBEN DISHDISHYAN: These have been very shiny years, although they weren’t essentially at all times straightforward. We’ve achieved loads on this time. To put issues in numbers, the corporate has applied 160 initiatives; 35 movies and 125 TV sequence. They’ve introduced us greater than 130 awards at worldwide and Russian festivals. Overall field workplace of our movies in Russia has reached 4.1 billion Rubles ($56M), and revenues from our initiatives overseas have elevated by greater than 50%.

One of our movies – the warfare drama T-34 – was an enormous success in China, not the simplest territory for overseas movie releases. It ran for a file 9 weeks and grossed $3.4M. Next 12 months we’re releasing yet one more profitable movie in China, the household romance Palma.

As for the brightest interval, I consider that’s the final 18 months: within the face of disaster, lockdown, uncertainty, and market decline, Mars Media has not solely survived, but additionally grown stronger. And it celebrated its 10th anniversary in full pressure, trying to the long run with nice optimism.

DEADLINE: You began primarily as a TV firm and extra not too long ago moved into movie, when lots of the trade goes the opposite means, inform us about that call.

DISHDISHYAN: For us it was a logical transfer. TV sequence are a much less dangerous and extra steady enterprise. From day one Mars Media was profitable within the TV market, which enabled us to realize power shortly. This allow us to look within the course of feature-length movies, particularly since my colleagues and I had already had substantial expertise in producing characteristic movies in our earlier firm – the one I based and headed for a few years, Central Partnership.

T-34
Mars Media

The turning level for Mars Media proved to be the movie T-34, which grew to become not solely an viewers hit, but additionally one of many largest field workplace successes within the historical past of Russia’s movie distribution enterprise, grossing 2.3 billion rubles ($31M). Thanks to this success, the corporate joined the leaders of Russian movie manufacturing and gained confidence.

Now the corporate is quickly creating, rising its share in terrestrial tv programming, in addition to within the movie trade and on-line platforms. We try to work in each section, every of them has its personal market dynamics. And terrestrial tv is a vital a part of Mars Media’s artistic endeavors.

DEADLINE: How is the well being of the native Russian cinema market?

DISHDISHYAN: Lockdowns, hybrid distribution, or releasing main movies on-line straightaway (which, in my opinion, is a flawed factor to do) have all had a foul impact on the present state of film theaters, and have modified the construction of movie distribution. I believe there ought to be assist for film theaters.

DEADLINE: You’ve achieved enterprise with the streamers – how a lot are the streamers concentrating on the Russian market and the way usually are you working with them? Apple simply purchased its first Russian present [Container].

DISHDISHYAN: We have been actively working with Russian platforms for a number of years. Our firm was one of many first to sense the rising curiosity in VOD companies and commenced to develop on this course. So, by the point the platforms grew stronger, we had one thing like 20 initiatives in retailer for them. Our TV sequence Storm, Whirlpool and Chicks grew to become trailblazers and so they loved main success with audiences and festivals.

I welcome the arrival of abroad streaming companies into our market, because it helps to spice up competitors and general product high quality. We are in shut contact with all main western platforms. I hope in 2022 we’ll announce which movie sequence are to be produced for them.

DEADLINE: How has the Russian market advanced throughout the final decade?

DISHDISHYAN: The enterprise mannequin has dramatically modified with the arrival of the streaming companies, which have now turn out to be the strongest gamers in some areas. Three years in the past, there was no means you would see it coming. There was a interval when taking pictures was very problematic [during the pandemic], which had its impact on the quantity of content material, nevertheless it appears like we’re witnessing a really speedy restoration now.

DEADLINE: Do you consider Russian content material might start to breakout extra internationally within the coming years, as we now have seen with international locations equivalent to South Korea?

DISHDISHYAN: I actually need to consider that’s going to be the case. I see the expansion of curiosity in Russian initiatives, which principally has to do with the rise in high quality of our content material and the extent of our movie trade on the entire. It has considerably grown lately – this goes each for movies and TV sequence. I attribute it to the truth that a brand new era of younger filmmakers has joined the enterprise.

Woland

August Diehl in Woland
Producers

Also, the world is opening up, and other people all around the world need to watch attention-grabbing content material. Language is not a significant subject, as audiences are getting used to subtitles. We have entry to the range of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO. We see the present tendencies and the benchmarks telling us during which course we’re to maneuver. All of that is already bearing fruit, so there can be extra successes to observe. I’m blissful to witness all that, and I consider that our contribution to this course of is not going to be a small one.

DEADLINE: How a lot public funding is on the market in Russia and to what extent are you tapping into this? Is there any political affect on these funding selections?

DISHDISHYAN: Mars Media is among the main filmmaking firms, which supplies us a possibility to obtain partial state funding for our initiatives. In all this time we now have by no means skilled strain or censorship. It is the potential and the standard of the submitted venture that’s at all times vital in making the choice to assist it.

DEADLINE: Otherwise, what are the important thing sources of native financing?

DISHDISHYAN: They range, together with our personal sources, personal investments, numerous funds, the assist of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, in addition to on-line platforms. Plus, collaborations with our companions. This 12 months, we signed a strategic five-year settlement to co-produce 10 characteristic movies with Leonard Blavatnik’s Amedia Production. With his firm we have already got efficiently co-produced numerous TV sequence and movie initiatives, together with The Golden Horde, T-34, and Palma. Currently, work is underway on two additional large-scale movies, Woland and Mira, which have theatrical releases slated for 2022-2023.

DEADLINE: Tell us extra in regards to the initiatives you have got developing.

DISHDISHYAN: We have one thing like 25 movies at numerous levels of improvement, it’s a program for three-four years forward. Among them: the movie adaptation of Ruslan and Ludmila, one of the vital fashionable works by Alexander Pushkin; Palma 2, the sequel to the household blockbuster; and The Dead Mountaneer’s Hotel, the movie adaptation of the novel by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. We even have about 25 TV and streaming platform initiatives within the works for 2022-23. In the following two-three years, we plan to achieve management in all segments of the trade and enter worldwide markets with our content material.





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