Melnitsa Animation Studio (Russian: Студия анимационного кино «Мельница», "melnitsa" meaning "windmill") is one of the largest animation studios in Russia. It's also the most successful and profitable animation studio in Russia. Alongside its animation projects, Melnitsa has an effort devoted to creating digital special effects for both animation projects and live-action films.
The studio traces its roots to several animated projects in the late 1990s, including television commercials, the short film Die Hard by Konstantin Bronzit (Grand Prix of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, 1998), and the animated series "Global Bears Rescue" and "Technology", created for Poseidon Film Distributors Ltd.
In 1999, Melnitsa was formally established and received funding from "Midi-Cinema" (Миди-Синема) and the film company STV (СТВ). The newly formed studio's first project was Adventures in Oz (Приключения в Изумрудном Городе) for NTV-film (НТВ-кино), a four-part animation released in 2000.
In 2001, Melnitsa released its first 3D-animated project - the short film Good Morning (С добрым утром) by Denis Chernov. In 2002 Melnitsa released two short films by the famous animator and director Konstantin Bronzit: There Was an Old Lady for Scholastic Entertainment and the 3D-animated film The God (winner of a number of international festival awards).
In 2000, Melnitsa began work on the feature-length animated film Little Longnose (Карлик Нос) directed by Ilya Maksimov, based on the fairy tale of Wilhelm Hauff. The film premiered on March 20, 2003. Although advertised as "the first Russian animated feature film released to theatres in 40 years", this claim has not been substantiated.
On December 23, 2004, the feature film Alyosha Popovich and Tugarin Zmey (Алёша Попович и Тугарин Змей) was released, directed by Konstantin Bronzit. The film was completed on the modest budget of $300,000 in a little over a year. The film took in about $1.7 million at the box office. This marked the beginning of Melnitsa's "The Three Bogatyrs" trilogy, and two more films were planned over the next several years.
On January 2005, at the 10th Open Russian Festival of Animated Film in Suzdal, the new short film by Konstantin Bronzit premiered, called Cat and Fox (Кот и Лиса). Work on it had been finished in November 2004. Bronzit's film, based on a national Russian tale, was part of the huge government-sponsored project by Moscow-based Pilot studio called "Gora Samotsvetov" (Гора самоцветов). The project, when complete, will consist of 52 13-minute films based on fairy tales from all of Russia's nationalities.
On March 15, 2006, the second film in the "3 Bogatyrs" trilogy was released, called Dobrynya Nikitich and Zmey Gorynych (Добрыня Никитич и Змей Горыныч), directed by Ilya Maksimov. It came on the heels of the animated blockbuster Prince Vladimir, which was released on February 22, 2006.
The third film in the trilogy, Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber (Илья Муромец и Соловей Разбойник), was released on July 7, 2007.