The history of Soyuzmultfilm

Soyuzmultfilm (meaning “Soviet animation”), originally known as Soyuzdetmultfilm (that is, “Soviet children’s animation”), was established in 1936; its debut movie was a black-and-white cartoon called It's Hot in Africa (1936). Other firsts include: the first color film (Sweet Pie) in 1937, the first full-length movie (The Lost Letter) in 1945, made after the studio returned to its previous activities post-World War II, and the first puppet movie (Pencil and Blot – Funny Hunters) in 1954.

The rise of the studio happened between the late 50s and 80s when the studio produced a series of renowned works, including The Snow Queen (1957), The Boy and Karlson (1968), Hedgehog in the Fog (1975), and Return of the Prodigal Parrot (1984-1988). In the 1990s, production at Soyuzmultfilm was paused. Thankfully, though, the company made a comeback in the 2010s with reboots of everyone’s favorite shows and new releases. 

The first-ever cartoon developed by Soyuzmultfilm. Credit: Союзмультфильм /

The studio's emblems varied over time, from the initial piece of film looped around a pencil to the image of Cheburashka in the 1970s and 1990s, and finally the studio's name in colorful letters, which is the one most commonly seen now.

Top 5 movies of all time

The highest-rated movies and series by the studio include: 

  • Once Upon a Dog (1982) by Eduard Nazarov – this folktale-based story about a stray dog and a wolf who give each other a "paw" in difficult life situations has produced a plethora of popular catchphrases;

  • the Prostokvashino trilogy (1978, 1980, and 1984) by Vladimir Popov – a series of short films based on Eduard Uspensky’s book Uncle Fedya, His Dog, and His Cat (1974) that follows the adventures of a young boy, a talking stray cat, and a dog as they move into the countryside on their own. The Soviet series is followed by an ongoing sequel; 

  • the Winnie-the-Pooh trilogy (1969, 1971, and 1972) by Fyodor Khitruk – the Russian adaptation of Alan Milne's book series, in which Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, and their many friends find themselves in different humorous (and not so) situations;

  • Well, Just You Wait! (1969-2017) by Gennady Sokolsky, Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin, and others – much like Tom and Jerry, the series features a never-ending battle between a wolf (Wolf) and a hare (Hare). There’s a modern sequel, too;

  • The Wolf and the Calf (1984) by Mikhail Kamenetsky – a puppet movie about a wolf who steals a newborn calf… and decides to let it grow a bit first.

All these, as well as many other cartoons by the studio, are available on its official YouTube channel and streaming services (more about them here and here).

Soyuzmultfilm today 

Soyuzmultfilm remains a Russian animation pioneer with its own production, multiple media platforms, and two themed entertainment parks in Moscow and Kazan. Throughout its history, the studio has created 1,500+ animated movies in a range of genres and styles, many of which are well-known in Russia and beyond. Though the studio, which has nearly a century of history, faced significant challenges in the 1990s and 2000s, it still entertains children and adults alike with "fresh-drawn" animation and forays into live-action film. Among the most recent releases are Suvorov: Great Adventure (2022; the studio’s first full-length film in 20 years); Cheburashka (2023; the highest-grossing movie in Russia and among top 20 highest-grossing in the world in 2023); Krutiksy (2021-present; a collab with Bubble Comics); One Hundred Years Ahead (2024; a fantasy movie in collaboration with other big-name studios); and many others.

Follow this tag to discover more Russian studios and delve even deeper into the cartoons to find valuable life lessons, learn which Soviet cartoon characters have become memes, and much more.