The Snow Queen is conquering Asia

Producer Yury Moskvin talks about the success of the Russian animation film The Snow Queen 2, coproduction with China and promoting Russian animation films abroad.

Yury Moskvin. Source: Press photo

After travelling around the world for a long time, the two-part animation feature Snow Queen, made by the Russian company Wizart, will be shown across cinema halls in China. In this interview, the man behind the success of the series, producerYury Moskvin talks about the success of the Snow Queen, coproduction with Chinese filmmakers and promoting Russian animation films abroad.

RBTH: After the recent Cannes film festival, your products were sold to 10 more territories. In how many countries is your Snow Queen franchise present at the moment?

Yury Moskvin: Taking into account DVD sales, rights have been sold to over 130 territories. What is essential is that in most of those countries we have long-term partners, who like what we do and trust us. Our projects show a growth in profit margin.  Everywhere, the release of The Snow Queen 2 has exceeded box-office figures of the first film. This goes from 30 percent in Poland, to 100 percent in Baltic countries to 250 percent in South Korea. That is why our partners are naturally interested in our new projects and are even prepared to take part in coproduction.

Snow Queen (2015). Source: Press photo.

RBTH: Which countries are your most significant partners?

Y.M.: The most important territory that we have managed to enter is, of course, China. We spent two years promoting this contract. It is an extremely closed market as it is, and we had a mandatory requirement to have a movie theater release. There had been no precedent and no-one believed it was possible but we managed to secure a wide release for The Snow Queen in China. We have already reached an agreement on releasing the second film. Furthermore, there is an interest from the Chinese side in coproducing the third film.

There are some interesting territories, for example the USA, where there has not been a movie theater release of the first film but there will be, albeit limited, release of the sequel. There is a tacit rule that a sequel cannot go on general release if the first film was not shown in cinema theaters, and we are breaking this rule. Also, this summer, The Snow Queen will be released in South Africa. Similarly, in Pakistan, where people watch either Hollywood or Bollywood films and it is impossible for an outsider to get in, The Snow Queen managed to cross that barrier.

Snow Queen (2015). Source: Press photo.

RBTH: How much has the two-part series grossed at the worldwide box office so far?

Y.M.: About $25-26 million, but there are many releases still to come. The main one is in China, with 3,400 copies, thrice as many as in Russia. In China, we work with our good friends, FlameNodeEntertainment. They will be releasing the sequel in China next spring.

Snow Queen (2015). Source: Press photo.

RBTH: How did you manage to get the Chinese side interested, especially in coproduction? All the more so since The Snow Queen 3 does not have any particular Asian angle or flavor...

Y.M.: For starters, Andersen is well known and loved in China too, so there was an interest in this project from the start. As for coproduction, it is a matter of trust in partners. China does not necessarily choose only those coproduction projects that have an Asian plot. Sometimes they make an exception, for purely pragmatic reasons. They feel that our franchise will work.

Our Chinese partners will not just contribute a certain part of the budget. They are also prepared to help us with releasing our films in the Asia-Pacific region, in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Snow Queen (2015). Source: Press photo.

RBTH: Animation is enjoying a boom period globally. What makes Wizart different from its numerous competitors both in Russia and abroad?

Y.M.: The amount of content is constantly on the rise and it is difficult to make one’s mark. When we were just starting, all it took to make it to Walmart shelves in the US was to make a good animation film. These days, it is no longer enough. To secure a release abroad, one needs international stars to voice the film. In The Snow Queen 2 we have four of them, Sean Bean, Sharlto Copley, Bella Thorne and Isabelle Fuhrman. There will be more stars in the third installment.

We constantly work on improving the quality of our animation and have even invited an expert from Dreamworks to help us with pre-production of The Snow Queen 3.

Snow Queen (2015). Source: Press photo.

RBTH: What are your plans for the near future?

Y.M.: We will continue to develop the Snow Queen franchise. We are now working on the third animation feature and are discussing a TV series featuring the same characters, with 26 episodes of 20-30 minutes each. There are several options for the plot, and our choice will depend on the TV channel and the partner. The TV series, too, will be a coproduction, which will make it possible to increase the volume of production and to minimize investment. The first episodes should be ready next spring or summer.

We are making another TV series, called Yoko, for younger children. We are producing it together with our partners from the Spanish company Somuga, in Russian, English and Spanish. The first season, comprising 26 13-minute-long episodes, is nearly complete. Next spring, another season will be ready. This fall, we shall show it on a Russian TV channel. The contract is now being finalized. It has already been confirmed that in Spain, the series will be shown on a national TV channel. 

Snow Queen (2015). Source: Press photo.

This is an abridged version of an interview first published in Russian by Izvestia. 

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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