Our project is devoted to the patterns of film exhibitions in Moscow cinema theatres between 1946 and 1955. Counting screening days, we consider the film programming in Moscow cinema theatres after the Second World War. The film programming data originates in film listings, which were published in the daily press Evening Moscow (Vecherniaia Moskva). We looked through 3,025 issues and collected 45 945 records for the 58 cinema theatres in Moscow.
The main objectives of the research:
1) To analyze the practices of film exhibitors in the USSR;
2) To understand the Soviet viewers’ preferences;
3) To reveal whether the period of a film’s exhibition indicates a film’s popularity among the public or cultural policy managed from above;
In order to trace the popularity of movies, this study applies POPSTAT method to the Soviet cinema market. However, since POPSTAT is based on the direct dependence of the pattern of diffusion from the filmgoers’ preferences, its application to the non-capitalist cinema markets still raises questions. While recent studies have shown that a similar principle prevailed behind the Iron Curtain, the Soviet experience of film diffusion still remains unknown. So during our research, we complemented data on film programmings, cinemas’ capacity and ticket prices with archival sources (annual reports of film distributors and box office data).
The obtained results demonstrated that, in the Soviet context, POPSTAT method lets elicit rather the local practices of film distributors. Forced to combine ideology and profit, film distributors had to manoeuvre between planned in advance governmental directives on how to diffuse each film and simultaneous filmgoers’ choices. In other words, in the Soviet context, POPSTAT presents a point of intersection of the imagination of a planned economy and the real preferences of filmgoers.
The preliminary results were published in:
Tanis К. А., Balykova А. А. POPSTAT and Film-Programming in Moscow Cinema Theaters (1947—1950), Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2022, No. 175, pp. 157-174.
Tanis К. А., Balykova А. А. Time And Film Programming In Moscow Cinema Theaters, 1946-1955 / Basic Research Programme. Series HUM “Humanities”. 2022. No. 209. [Preprint]