There are roughly 30 full-range Russian animation studios currently working in industry, the largest of which are Melnitsa Studio and the Riki Production Centre, each creating over 5 hours of animation annually. The mid-sized studios are Animaccord, Aeroplane, KinoAtis and others, which create over 2 hours of animation annually.
Our days the government is presently the main source of funding for Russian animation. Animation studios are annually allocated between 800 and 900 million roubles (€20-€22 million*) from the federal budget. In 2013, these funds included around €9 million allocated for debut, short and series animation, while around €11 million were allocated for feature length animated films. Private investments make up around 35-50% of the Russian animation budget. Of the current television channels, animation is regularly funded by animation channel 2x2, which has launched several low-budget projects.
Over the last 5 years, the Russian animation budget has increased by no less than two-fold. A total of around 60 hours of new animation are produced each year. Experts have recently noted the significant jump in the quality of animation being produced as well as its marketability. Experts have noted that in 2008, less than 30% of animated films found their “place” in the theatrical release process, however, in 2013, around 70-80% of the animated movies made it to the viewer in one way or another (through festivals, theatre releases, TV or through the Internet). Meanwhile, around 30-40% of the animation being produced makes it to the wider audience (i.e., it is regularly broadcasted on television or in the theatres). Presently, the Russian family viewer is familiar with anywhere from 8 to 15 long-running Russian animation series, which includes the series The Pooshers (Melnitsa Studio), Space Dogs.Family (Kinoatis Studio), Lucky (Metronomfilm Studio), Qumi Qumi (Toonbox Studio), Flying Animals (Da Studio), Luntik (Melnitsa Studio), Masha and the Bear (Animaccord Studio), Innovators (Private Technologies Studio), Tishka the Little Locomotive (AA Studio), Kikoriki (SKA St. Petersburg), The Magic Tower (Master-Film Studio), Three Kittens (Master-Film Studio) and Fixiki (Aeroplan Studio).
What's about Russian animation distribution, licensing and theatrical releases? Between 3 and 5 Russian animated movies are released in theatres every year. Additionally, collections of short films (up to 2 per year) also make it to theatre screens almost every year (as a limited release with a small number of copies). At the same time, there has been a marked increase in the amount of revenue generated by Russian full-feature animated films, a growth of 163% (more than two-fold over 5 years). The present increases are mostly linked with the Melnitsa Studio, whose animation has won over the hearts of the national audience. A box office record in the amount of $31.5 million was set by the animated film Three Heroes on Distant Shores in 2013. The next release by Melnitsa Studio, Prince Ivan and the Gray Wolf 2 indicated a decrease in the Studio’s popularity as the film was only able to make $19 million at the box office. Animated movies made by other studios may well reach the $6 million to $7,5 million mark. These include Kikoriki. The Beginning – $9 million, Snow Queen – $8.5 million and Belka and Strelka. Space Dogs – $6 million. It is more often the case that animated films make around $1 million to $2 million at the box office, films like The New Adventures of Alenushka and Yerema – $1.6 million, Kukaracha in 3D – $2 million, Propeller Tales in 3D – $2.1 million and Koo! Kin-Dza-Dza – $0.9 million.
Russian animation has also had a larger presence on television. Around 15 animation projects (mostly children’s TV series, mentioned above) are being broadcasted on Russian television today (both national and cable channels). According to various researchers, national television affords only about 13-25% of its overall animation time to national animation, which is made up mostly of soviet animation, and only 10-15% of all Russian animation shown on television is modern. Over the last 5 years, the list of modern Russian animation series and projects being broadcasted simultaneously on television has expanded significantly, from 5 in 2008 to 15 in 2013.
Between 2008 and 2011, there was a significant expansion in the range of cartoons released on DVD and other mediums meant for home viewing. However, due to the overall decline of the DVD market, this trend did not significantly affect the situation as a whole. Parallel to the sharp decline in the rental market, there is a marked growth in the amount of national animation found online as well as a growth in Internet sales. Free internet channels that broadcast national animated series have been undeniably successful. For example, the YouTube channel for Masha and the Bear (created by Animaccord Studio) had 1.2 million subscribers as of March 2014, while individual episodes from the series have gathered up to 100 million views. Another popular YouTube channel that belongs to the Luntik animated series (Melnitsa Studio) has received almost 2 billion total views. Art-house style series such as Flying Animals (Animation Studio «Da») and Lucky (Metronomfilms Studio) also do well on their free Internet channels; even though these series are not very long, over their few years on the Internet, each channel has gathered almost 1.5 million views. There is a marked positive trend in the world of Russian animation today that is linked with the improved quality of the animation as well as the effective methods of distribution.
This Survey is based on market research, theatrical release bulletins as well as professional expert opinions.
We are glad to present you the study of Russian animation industry conducted in 2013 by Universal Consulting (Movie Research company) at the commission of the Animated Film Association.