The Russian Movie Theater Project is an archive of film exhibition in St. Petersburg during the twentieth century: a portrait of film exhibition and movie-going scene in Soviet Leningrad and Post-Soviet St. Petersburg. The project is inspired by Williamsburg Theater Project (led by Professor Arthur Knight) and the international initiative, the History of Moviegoing, Exhibition, and Reception (HOMER) Project. While many Western cinematic traditions are represented in the HOMER project, there is no online archive covering Russian cinema. The RMTP aims to fill that gap.
Most histories of Russian and Soviet cinema operate under the assumption that all films released were available to all citizens of Russia Soviet Union. When the films received a limited release for political reasons, researchers provide anecdotal evidence about how these films were distributed. The Moscow Theater Project would like to create an empirical portrait of Muscovites’ movie going habits and film exhibition patterns at different periods of Soviet and Russian history. For example, when and where Soviets were able to see Western films in Stalinist Russia? How did the availability of Italian, Indian, and American films changed after Stalin’s death? How does Soviet-era propaganda and post-Soviet promotion affect film distribution and film attendance?
Currently we are collecting data on one commercial movie theater downtown, one commercial theater in the residential area on the outskirts of the city, and one art house movie theater in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Soon we will begin collecting data about the films released in the Soviet Union during the period after Stalin’s death (from 1953 till 1964) using the magazine Soviet Screen and film journal Art of Cinema. We will use this information as a point of departure to analyze how these films were screened in Moscow during the period of their release.