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Russia’s two top cinema chains cancel controversial tsar movie amid safety concerns

September 12, 17:39 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Two leading Russian cinema networks have decided to withdraw the screening of Matilda, a movie describing the love story of last Russian emperor Nicholas II and a ballet dancer

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© Alexei Konstantinov/TASS

MOSCOW, September 12. /TASS/. Two leading Russian cinema networks, Formula Kino and Cinema Park, have decided to withdraw the screening of Matilda, a movie describing the love story of last Russian emperor Nicholas II and a ballet dancer, over security threats, the press service of the companies said on Tuesday.

"We were forced to cancel the showing of Matilda. The recent controversy around the film might have increased its commercial potential but the security of our viewers is a priority," the press service quoted Roman Linin, CEO of the cinema chains, as saying.

"As the largest network from the point of view of geography and the number of movie theaters, we just cannot put our numerous visitors in jeopardy," he stressed.

The press service of the cinema chain which runs 75 movie theaters in 28 Russian cities said this decision has nothing to do with politics or religion.

The film by Alexei Uchitel, which depicts a romance between Nicholas II and ballerina Matilda Kschessinska before his marriage and coronation, is set for release on October 26.

Nicholas II and his family were executed after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.

A number of activists including MP Natalia Poklonskaya, Crimea’s former prosecutor, have launched a campaign against the film calling for its release to be cancelled and claiming that it will insult the feelings of Orthodox believers.

On Monday night, two cars were set ablaze outside the office of Uchitel’s lawyer, Konstantin Dobrynin, in downtown Moscow. The attorney posted photos of the charred automobiles and notes left at the scene saying "Burn for Matilda" on his Facebook page.

A group calling itself "Christian State, Holy Russia" sent nearly a thousand letters with threats to movie theater owners across Russia, urging them to drop the screening of Matilda.

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