Russia's Oscar Entry ‘Stalingrad’ Breaks Box-Office Record in Debut

Russia's Oscar Entry 'Stalingrad' Breaks Box-Office Record in Debut

The Imax and 3D war epic, distributed by Sony, posts biggest opening ever for a local production

“Stalingrad,” a love story set against the backdrop of a brutal World War II battle, debuted with $14.4 million in Russia this weekend, the best opening ever for a local production.

Russia’s selection for the Best Foreign Language Oscar competition, which Sony is distributing, opened at No. 1 there and in the Ukraine this weekend, and brought in a total of $15.5 million.

“Stalingrad” is the first Russian movie made completely in 3D and the first non-American film in the IMAX format. The German- and Russian-language film was produced by Art Pictures Studio for an estimated $30 million.

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Written by Ilya Tilkin and Sergey Snezhkin and directed by Fedor Bondarchuk, “Stalingrad” is set in 1942, when invading German troops were in control of the Volga River. A group of Soviet soldiers finds a young woman trapped behind enemy lines and works to protect her. Thomas Kretschmann and Yanina Studilina star.

Russia is becoming an increasingly important market for Hollywood films. In 2012, total box office in the country hit a record $1.33 billion, an 18.8 percent jump from the previous year.

Elsewhere internationally, Warner Bros.’ “Gravity” was by far the biggest earner, taking in $28 million from 39 foreign markets. Its foreign total is up to $68 million and it will cross $200 million worldwide Monday.

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Universal’s “Despicable Me 2” is still ticking and added another $10.1 million from 41 foreign countries. That raises its foreign total to $522 million and its worldwide gross to $885 million.

Sony’s “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” was the No. 4 film internationally this weekend with $9.1 million from 33 overseas markets. It’s up to $21 million foreign and is about to cross $100 million worldwide.