Russian culture minister calls for tax on Hollywood films

Vladimir Medinsky wants an end to the current system, which the Russian government believes is subsidising the US film industry

Vladimir Medinsky, the Russian culture minister, is pushing for changes to the domestic film industry that he believes is benefiting Hollywood, but not his homeland.

According to the Moscow Times, he wants to introduce a sales tax that will be used to increase funds for local productions. “I cannot understand why our tax system is subsidising Hollywood,” he said.

The proposal arrives at the same time as a push for films promoting a more patriotic view of Russia and its government. Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister, has also proposed a sales tax on cinema tickets, but this may not include domestic productions. The plan may add 100 roubles ($1.80/£1.15) to the price of admission.

Medinsky said this is an “exceptionally right decision”.

The problem for the culture ministry is that American films still earn 80% of total box office takings in Russia. Last year, Transformers: Age of Extinction was the year’s biggest hit, making over $45m (£28.6m). The biggest Russian film of the year was Viy 3D, which made $34m (£21.6m).

Subsidies for homegrown films have increased in recent years, but only for works that show the country in a positive light. Medinsky criticised the Oscar-nominated drama Leviathan for “a spirit of despair and the pointlessness of our existence”. Earlier in 2015, the government released a list of criteria for films applying for state funding, including themes of inspirational success and depictions of military glory.

This year the Tom Hardy mystery thriller Child 44 was banned by the Russian government for being “historically inaccurate”.

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