While the rest of the world tunes in to see how their nations' skiers and skaters are faring at the Sochi Winter Games, many Russians are heading to their local movie theaters for a different sort of Olympic entertainment.
The film, which is being shown in cinemas throughout Russia, is a comedy about three cross-dressing guys who join Russia's Olympic women's snowboard team. The men try to help their country's female snowboarders compete against the U.S. athletes. Think of the Rodney Dangerfield movie "Ladybugs" but in Russian.
Sreda-Fetisov Films, the movie studio owned by Russian billionaire Gleb Fetisov, timed the premiere to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Audiences have been receptive. The film was No. 4 at the Russian box office in its first week, according to researcher Kinometro.ru.
While the producers of the movie, called "Some Like It Cold," plan to release it abroad, they're running into resistance from Hollywood. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer demanded that Sreda-Fetisov change the name of the movie for its worldwide release, according to the Russian studio. MGM argued that the title is confusingly similar to its 1959 comedy "Some Like It Hot," featuring Marilyn Monroe and a male cross-dressing duo. MGM declined to comment.
"A good title, and an association with the Olympics and winter sports are our two keys to success," Oleg Teterin, one of the Russian film's producers, said in a phone interview.
Russia has been long known for its lax attitude towards copyright. The Motion Picture Association of America, the movie industry trade group, described Russia in a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative as one of the "notorious markets that threaten legitimate commerce." The MPAA said Russia's largest social network VKontakte along with file-sharing sites RuTracker.org and Rapidgator.net, are among the most prominent copyright violators.
MGM has asked the Russian studio to shut down the film's promotional website, SomeLikeItCold2014.com. The Russian movie's producers say that they've registered for a trademark on "Some Like It Cold," and that the film doesn't infringe.
—With assistance from Anastasia Ustinova in Chicago