Russians are flocking to bootleg Barbie screenings amid Hollywood ban in country

Russians are flocking to bootleg Barbie screenings amid Hollywood ban in country
'Barbie' makes Margot Robbie a box office queen, see which iconic movie …

Russians are going to see bootleg viewings of the Barbie movie thanks to Hollywood pulling out of Russia.

Warner Bros and other big Hollywood names like Disney and Netflix pulled out of the country after Putin invaded Ukraine last year.

So, since then, copies of popular films have come into the country through other Russian-speaking markets, such as Kazakhstan, to work around the sanctions.

To get around the system, some cinemas sell people tickets for a little-known Russian documentary or short film and then show a different film during the preview, to skirt American copyright laws and Russian laws that require distribution certificates from the Russian Ministry of Culture.

But in June, the primary Kazakh-based distributor that had been illegally delivering Hollywood-licensed films to Russian cinemas announced it was pulling out of the business for financial reasons.

This is how pirated viewings have started becoming popular.

Nikita Zabolotskikh, 17, has spent an estimated Rbs300,000 — or more than $3,000 — bringing Barbie to the big screen in the city of Perm by acquiring a pirated copy, hiring a Russian dubbing company and rolling out an extensive marketing campaign.

He told theFinancial Times that he and a friend came up with the idea after reading news reports that the Kazakh company was ending its business — just as Barbie was about to hit cinemas worldwide.

“The demand was unbelievable. People were losing their mind buying tickets . . . A huge number of people want to see Barbie,” he said.

They now plan to show a higher-quality, re-dubbed version of the film at Kinomax, one of Russia’s biggest cinema chains — with plans to expand to 15-20 other Russian cities afterwards.

“It’s the best-quality version on the [Russian] market,” he said. “And probably will be for the next two to three months.”

Meanwhile, in Russia’s central city of Tyumen the Gorkiy cinema has already shown a pirated version of the film on its rooftop. Organisers noted that the quality might not suit “lovers of 4k resolution and ideal sound”.

Some Moscow politicians don't like the liberal western values shown in the film. Maria Butina, a Russian lawmaker convicted in the US for operating as an unregistered foreign agent, has called for a ban on the sale of Barbie dolls and the new Mattel movie, which she labelled as an “advertisement” for the agenda of the US Democratic party.

“What do we see [in the film]? Gays. Trans people. Women who have taken over the world. Nothing about the union between men and women, nothing about love,” she said in an appearance on the Russian Duma TV channel.

But that is clearly not enough to stop Barbiemania.

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