Russia has become the first European box office market to achieve its Stage 5 target on Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery. Even as its Western European counterparts remained in new lockdowns, the Eastern European major utilised the traditionally strong opening play-week of the year to finally achieve both Stage 4 and Stage 5 goals.

Stage 4 of Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery, requires a box office week equivalent to a median business week recorded in 2018-2019. For Russia this is a week grossing at least R911.37 million. Stage 5 requires a box office week equivalent to a week in the top quartile of 2018-2019 performers. In Russia this is a week grossing at least R1.12 billion.

The Dec. 31-Jan. 6 play-week, the first play-week of 2021 in Russia, dwarfed both targets with a 7-day result of R2.23 billion ($30m) that nearly doubled the Stage 5 target, according to our partners at Comscore Movies. Business was up 384% week-on-week as local adventure sequel THE LAST WARRIOR: ROOT OF EVIL opened at #1 ahead of THE CROODS: A NEW AGE in week 3.

Russia is only the third global market tracked by Comscore to achieve Stage 5 of Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery, after China and Japan. It is also only the fifth market to achieve Stage 4, which has also been hit by Taiwan and, most recently, Singapore.

Russia is also the first new territory to hit a major recovery goal in 2021. Australia came close to hitting its Stage 4 target (achieving 97% of the goal) in its first play-week of the year. However, both China and Japan also achieved Stage 5 levels in their first 2021 play-weeks. China’s result was boosted by new local titles, drama A LITTLE RED FLOWER and comedy WARM HUG, as well as a very strong second week for Pixar’s SOUL (rising 47% from its first week). Japan continued to be led by all-time record holder DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN.

Just as in China and Japan, Russia’s success is largely due to local content. THE LAST WARRIOR: ROOT OF EVIL opened January 1. It nearly generated enough revenue alone (R1.11bn) in its first play-week to achieve the Stage 5 target – something it undoubtedly would have done had it played the full seven days of the play-week rather than only six – controlling just shy of 50% market share.

The film also drove Russia to repeat at a Stage 5 level in its second play-week of the year (Jan. 7-13) with the market grossing an estimated R1.33 billion ($17.9m). ROOT OF EVIL held firm at #1, accounting for 44% market share. Another local title, firefighter drama FIRE, finished second for the week (its third in release) after dropping just 24% week-on-week. The two local titles accounted for 61% market share between them.

THE LAST WARRIOR: ROOT OF EVIL has now grossed an estimated R1.69 billion ($22.8m) after just 13 days on release. It is already poised to overtake the R1.73 billion ($30.2m) final box office of its 2017 predecessor THE LAST WARRIOR, which is the 5th highest grossing local release of all-time in Russia. A third film in the franchise is planned.

How box office is tracking in 30 global markets, including Russia, can be followed each week by subscribing to Gower Street’s International Road To Recovery report here.