There has been a lot of criticism over the last few years aimed at the Fifty Shades film series. However, nobody has thrown quite the shade at the movies than the Russian Culture Minister just did at the most recent entry. As Culture Minister, Vladimir Medinsky is concerned about Hollywood movies that are pushing local films out of the theaters, and he recently took aim at Fifty Shades Freed specifically as a major culprit. Apparently, the final film in the trilogy was so big that it was actually on a majority of screens in Russia over last weekend, which meant that local films had trouble finding an audience. The sarcasm was dripping off Medinsky when he said...
Vladimir Medinsky hits Fifty Shades Freed pretty hard, since we're not sure even fans of the series would call it a "masterpiece of global cinema." He's clearly unhappy with the situation. It's unclear if he would be kinder if he actually thought the movie was great, but in this case, he's basically writing it off.
70 percent is a huge number of screens, and while The Hollywood Reporter says that Fifty Shades Freed didn't hold that many screens for the entire weekend, it did have that many at various points throughout its opening weekend. Certainly, that's a huge number, so it's understandable that Russia's culture minister would be upset that a foreign film had such a stranglehold on theaters in his country. The fact that he clearly doesn't think much of this particular film certainly doesn't help matters.
When one movie has nearly three-quarters of all movie screens it's going to be impossible for any other movies to put together decent box office numbers. However, as the culture minister, it's this man's job to make sure that Russian movies get some degree of support, so of course, he's not happy when something like that happens. Vladimir Medinsky is pushing the Russian government to pass laws that would help protect Russian cinema. He'd like to cap the number of screens that foreign movies can have at any one time, so that local films will still be able to compete. Obviously, Hollywood has been against such things.
Russia wouldn't be the first nation to have such rules in place were they to do so. China currently has blackout periods where foreign movies aren't allowed to open. This allows local Chinese cinema to have a chance to flourish and not get overwhelmed by the latest Transformers movie.
It's unclear exactly how successful Fifty Shades Freed actually was at the Russian box office, or if Russian critics were moved by the "masterpiece."