Once in the Desert* was released on the Amazon TVOD platform in India on 18th November 2022 and ranked 9th in its first week of release, where it competed with major studio films such as Justice League in 4th place, Beast in 5th place, Superfine Films’s The Lair in 6th place, Spiderman–No Way Home in 7th place.
Kamal Jain, CEO of Superfine Films Private Limited, the holder of the rights to the film in India & the subcontinent (Bangladesh, Nepal and other countries), talked about this at the Film Bazaar content market in India, where ROSKINO organized a booth for the Russian film industry, Russian Content Worldwide (RCW).
Superfine Films Private Limited previously bought the rights for other Russian films, such as, Coma and The Balkan Line (a Russian-Serbian co-production).
Kamal Jain (CEO, Superfine Films Private Limited) says: “Once in the Desert fitted perfectly with our acquisition needs and is the kind of genre that works for India. India is typically a very hard market for foreign language films. We have watched Russian films very closely and are avid admirers of Russian cinema and acquire them whenever the opportunity allows. We have been in the distribution and acquisition business in India for more than 33 years and know the territory well. We can proudly say that ours is perhaps the only company where our Russian-released films have enjoyed great success—starting from The Balkan Line which became in Top 10 on Amazon Prime (and probably first Russian film to appear in Top 10) and now Once in the Desert perhaps the first Russian film to appear in Top 10 on Amazon TVOD Store.”
He added that the space for foreign language films in India is very limited as most of it is controlled by the huge inflow of Bollywood content, big Hollywood studios, and independent American content. However, while Russian content has potential in the Indian market, the selection of films that can work for India must be done very carefully.
Several new projects from Russia are being considered at the moment by the Superfine Films Private Limited. “We are definitely considering a couple of newer projects from Russia through the Film Bazaar,” said Kamal Jain, attending the RCW stand at the recent Film Bazaar content market. “I met a couple of Russian people from the delegation, and I am very hopeful that very soon Superfine will be releasing another Russian film in India. We usually look for such genres as action, adventure, films with VFX, and franchise titles.”
Ten Russian companies were represented at the Film Bazaar content market under the RCW brand: Central Partnership, Art Pictures Distribution, KION online cinema, Plus Studio, Bubble Studios, GPM Entertainment Television (GPM ETV), SMF Animation, RIKI Group, Red Carpet Studio, and Platoshka Animation Studio. The stand was organized by ROSKINO, a state organization promoting Russian content internationally.
Once In The Desert was directed by Andrey Kravchuk and produced by Aleksey Uchitel, Rock Films Studio.
Alexey Uchitel (Producer and Artistic Director, Rock Films Studio) commented: “Once in the Desert is a very large-scale project, in which a lot of money and effort has been invested. Therefore, as producers, we are very pleased that it is gaining recognition abroad, not just in Russia. Among the latest achievements in the domestic market are the Grand Prix of the “Luchezarny Angel” Festival. The film also entered the long list of the annual Golden Eagle Award in the Best Feature Film category, where it will compete for the main prize in January, 2023.”
Olga Ailarova (International distribution specialist, Riverlet films, sales agent for Once in the Desert) explained: “The film was released in Russia earlier this year and has been sold in major global territories. We are delighted that Once in the Desert has also found distributors in India, China, Taiwan, and Indonesia in recent months, and we look forward to local releases”.
*Once In The Desert is a drama about Russian sappers. The ancient Syrian city of Palmyra has recently been liberated from ISIS. A special Explosive Ordnance Disposal team clears explosives left by the terrorists, one kilometer at a time, to open the way to the city. But the closer the sappers get to the center of Palmyra, the more destructive the explosives. Tension grows between the young team Captain and the most experienced of the EOD experts. And yet, when the team is ambushed and the Captain is kidnapped, it’s the experienced sapper who sets out to rescue him.