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Reboot of Soviet Cartoon Becomes Russia’s Highest-Grossing Film Ever

Premiere of "Cheburashka" at Oktyabr cinema in Moscow. Pelagia Tikhonova / Moskva News Agency

A Russian film reboot featuring legendary Soviet cartoon character Cheburashka has become Russia’s highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing the first part of James Cameron’s “Avatar” despite only being released two weeks ago, according to statistics published by the Russian Cinema Fund. 

The total box office from “Cheburashka,” which was released on Jan. 1, has already surpassed 3.5 billion rubles ($50 million) with over 1.3 billion rubles taken in the film’s opening weekend alone. 

The film, directed by Dmitry Dyachenko, features the eponymous CGI hero Cheburashka, who first appeared on screens in a 1969 film by Soviet animator Roman Kachanov. The film tells the story of a furry creature who gets transported to a small Russian resort town where adventures and new friendships await him. 

The original cartoon became an instant classic across the Soviet Union, while the mouse-like Cheburashka later continued to make appearances on Russian television, even becoming the official mascot of the Russian Olympic team in the 2000s.

Even though major Hollywood studios have suspended new cinematic releases in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, Cheburashka's runaway success in such a short period of time suggests that the film would have been a massive hit even if it had been forced to compete with the latest Hollywood releases.

As well as Avatar, Cheburashka’s takings during its first two weeks in cinemas exceeded those of other Hollywood blockbusters including “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

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