Rampant Piracy Gets Russian Movie About Dragons a Distribution Deal, Somehow
Today brings an odd story out of Russia, one that will be regrettably sure to provide online-piracy apologists with a sturdy talking point. Today, the Hollywood Reporter has relayed the strange tale of On-Drakon, a Russian indie with a title translating roughly to He Is a Dragon, whose producers signed a distribution deal with an offshoot of YL Entertainment, the rapidly expanding country’s largest cinema holding company. Their road to this plum contract was fraught with ups and downs (mostly downs), but they were ultimately able to spin an epidemic of online piracy to their advantage.
The romantic fantasy film was reportedly downloaded through illegal channels over 5.6 million times since its release in Russia back in December, attracting over 270,000 comments on social media platforms. Apparently, the brains at Wanted and Ben-Hur director Timur Bekmambetov’s production company Bazelevs viewed the rampant piracy as a sign of interest from the public rather than a threat to the bottom line, and was especially interested in the comments comparing the film to the Game of Thrones and Twilight series. They were motivated to strike a deal with YL’s branch of Youngle Pictures and will now bring the film to a wide network of cinemas.
The film tells the story of Princess Miroslava, who is kidnapped by a nefarious dragon on the day she is set to be wed and whisked away to an island stronghold. In what must be the most telling statement concerning this whole story, Youngle president Wan Jun stated that the company saw potential in the picture for expanded merchandising opportunities, including “comics and mobile apps.” Regardless of what the future of this film may be, it’s important to remember: piracy = bad! Even if it sometimes indicates public interest sufficient to fuel a popular theatrical release for a film otherwise doomed to be forgotten, piracy = bad.