Cinemas in Russia have resorted to running pirated copies of the hit film 'Barbie' amid ongoing sanctions from the West, news outlets in the country are claiming. (Photo by Neil Mockford/FilmMagic)


Russian cinemas run pirated versions of ‘Barbie’ amid sanctions


Cinemas in Russia have resorted to running pirated copies of the hit film Barbie amid ongoing sanctions imposed by the West, news outlets in the country have claimed.

According to Russian-language TV channel RTVI, movie theatres are unable to get their hands on legal copies of the film after its maker Warner Bros pulled out of the country over the war in Ukraine.

The poor quality of these so-called “rips” are said to have upset many filmgoers, with one Siberian cinema’s showing of the movie reportedly being plagued with pop-up gambling advertisements.

One critic described the experience as “sh*tty”, adding that the Russian dubbing of the film was also particularly poor.

A spokesperson for the cinema defended the decision to show the pirated copy despite its poor quality, saying that many casual moviegoers still found the experience enjoyable.

“We just want to show movies in our harsh realities – to give access to some kind of entertainment,” the spokesman said.

“I myself am a film critic and I understand the reactions of other people who say that this is illegal and dishonest in relation to the copyright holders.

“But for ordinary people who want to spend the evening [watching the film], this is a completely decent alternative,” the spokesman insisted.

Western movie companies have reportedly made concerted efforts to keep Russian cinemas from obtaining official copies of both Barbie and its box-office rival Oppenheimer over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Cinemas across Russia have claimed they are working to get hold of high-quality versions of the films irrespective of Western cooperation on the issue, with Russia effectively legalising media piracy as long as the content is deemed to have come from an “unfriendly” country.

The irregular nature of the showings has come with some benefits for Russian cinema-goers, with tickets to see the US blockbuster Barbie being sold for as little as 300 rubles, or slightly less than €2.80.