- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Russian Culture Ministry has reportedly tapped the brakes on the release of the latest installment of Hollywood’s “The Fast and the Furious” mega-franchise to give a government-backed movie about cosmonauts a clear lane at the box office.

The Vedomosti newspaper reported Tuesday that some of Russia’s largest movie theater chains have complained about a proposed delay in the release of “Fast and Furious 8: The Fate of the Furious,” set for a global release on April 13.

The problem: April 12 in Russia is Cosmonaut Day, and Russian producers are planning to release that day “First Time,” a biopic about cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who became the first man to walk in space in March 1965. Under pressure from the producers of “First Day,” sources in the Culture Ministry told the newspaper, the government ordered the theaters to hold off on the U.S. rival.

Russia’s big theater chains are not happy, writing to the ministry that “The Fast and Furious 8” would bring in much-needed business at a time when not many big box-office draws are coming out, the Moscow Times reported in its account of the controversy.

“There are simply no other blockbuster premieres in April,” executives of some of Russia’s largest theater chains wrote in a joint letter to the ministry. ” ‘First Time’ will hardly bring in more than a few hundred rubles.”

“Furious 7,” the previous installment in the fast-cars-and-fast-living franchise, earned 1.7 billion rubles — about $30 million — after its 2015 release.

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