In February 1998, Hollywood producer Bob Van Ronkel got a call from a Russian friend who wanted to know if he could arrange for a Hollywood Studio to travel to Moscow and meet with government officials about building the first multiplex cinemas in Russia.
Shortly thereafter, Bob met with top level executives at Warner Bros. Studio and they agreed to send the President of Warner Bros. International Theatres, Millard Ochs to accompany Bob to Moscow and meet with Mayor Yury M. Louzshkov. By the end of the meeting, Mayor Louzshkov and Mr. Ochs had agreed to begin a partnership to build Warner Bros. Cinemas in Moscow.
Several times during that year, Bob returned with Mr. Ochs to approve a location. This was just prior to Russia’s financial crash in August of 1998, which made Warner Bros. unsure about going forward and the idea was abandoned.
In May of 1999, the General Director of the Moscow International Film Festival, Renat Davletiarov, asked Bob if he could bring a Hollywood star to attend their film festival in June. Bob called (Academy Award winning actor) Martin Landau and he agreed to attend. At the end of the festival, Mr. Davletiarov asked him if he would become the US Marketing Director for the MIFF and bring other Hollywood personalities to future festival.
Bob accepted the challenge and immediately began calling everyone in the film industry he knew and asked them if they would introduce him to actors, directors and other well-known film-maker’s they knew. Through that approach and after 100 phone calls, Bob was able to contact and convince a number of high profile Hollywood personalities to attend the next festival. These people included the President of Paramount Studios, Sherry Lansing, Director Billy Friedkin, Producer and former President of Carolco Pictures, Peter Hoffman, actor Billy Zane and a film crew from E-Television, which covered the event and broadcast it to 50,000,000 homes in the US and around the world.
Sailing on the wave of his accomplishment, Bob made a serious decision. He enjoyed being in Russia so much while working for the festival that he decided he needed to create a full time job so that he might stay there.
On the plane coming back from the second Film Festival, Bob got an idea. What about shooting a television series in Russia for US television called "From the Files of the KGB"? Every American knew what the KGB was and everyone was apprehensive knowing what they do. What could be more exciting and terrifying to watch than individual KGB spy stories? He began calling all the contacts he had made in Russia, to see if anyone could arrange a meeting for him with the heads of the KGB.
Meanwhile, in June of 2001, Bob got his first big break when actors Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, Lara Flynn Boyle, Peta Wilson and Samo Hung told him they would attend the festival. With these Hollywood stars present, it immediately became the biggest and best festival they had ever had and journalists from all over the world came to see and interview the visiting super stars. Even President Vladimir Putin wanted to meet Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn, so Russia’s most famous Director and president of the film festival, Nikita Mikhalkov, arranged a private dinner to make the introduction.
The festival had been a huge success and everywhere Bob went in Moscow, people knew and were complimenting him. A few days after the festival, he was at a dinner party in Moscow with an American business manager friend, when he got a call from his client Jim Carrey who had not been able to attend the festival because of filming. Jim said he was now ready to take a vacation and wanted to visit Bob in Moscow. Jim said, "Get me a visa, security, cars, drivers and a nice suite and I'll be in Moscow within a week".
Within a week, Bob was at Vnukovo private airport with a limousine and Mercedes, five security guards and a translator to pick up Jim, who had just arrived on his private jet. After five days of fun and seeing all the cultural sites of Moscow, Jim and Bob flew on Jim’s jet to Saint Petersburg and spent 24 hours there visiting the Hermitage, Palaces, cathedrals and museums. The following day, after telling Bob it was the best trip of his life, Jim returned to the US.
During the next few weeks that Bob remained in Moscow, many journalists contacted the film festival to get his phone number. Before he left that month, he had done over 60 interviews. By the end of 2001, Bob had become very well- known and was being contacted by a number of successful Russian producers and businessmen. A Russian company called Matador Media was the first to hire him and asked him to bring actors John Malkovich and Dolph Lundgren to publicize the opening of their new Moscow production company.
In 2002, he was hired to help throw a 30th birthday party in Jamaica for a wealthy Russian banker and before the end of 2002, was hired by another well-known Russian banker, to help throw his 34th birthday party in Cannes, France. Some of the guests Bob brought to these parties were; Kiss, Nazareth, Scorpions, Sugar Rey, A-HA, Gypsy Kings, Val Kilmer, Billy Zane, James Caan, Faye Dunaway, Chris Kirkpatrick, Ralf Moeller and Oleg Taktarov.
The following year, MDM Bank hired Mr. Van Ronkel to produce the Hiro Yamagata Laser Exhibition for Saint Petersburg’s 300 year anniversary. It was after this celebration that he realized his dream had come true and he now had many good reasons to start a new business in Russia. On that day, Doors to Hollywood was created. In November of 2002, Bob moved to Moscow and from the day he began working in Moscow until now, he has brought over 60 Hollywood stars and bands to Russia and other countries for special events such as; Film festivals and fashion shows, feature films and television appearances, private parties and concerts.
Some of those celebrities were; Mariah Carrey, Katy Perry, Kiss, Nazareth, Scorpions, Brian Ferry, A-HA, 30 Seconds to Mars, Gypsy Kings, Jim Carrey, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, John Malkovich, Dolph Lundgren, Pamela Anderson and many more.
In addition, Mr. Van Ronkel has produced five Hollywood films, three of which filmed in Russia, a Russian television series for ORT called “Tryukachi”, three Odessa Jazz Festivals, the MDM Bank/Hiro Yamagata laser exhibition for Saint Petersburg’s 300 year anniversary and three 1,000,000 Smiles charity events for orphan children. Bob has been a consultant to film festivals «Kinotavr», «Faces of Love», «2Morrow», «Me and Family» the «Moscow International Film Festival» as well as Russian channels MTV, MUZ TV, NTV and many other prominent companies and individuals. In 2007 he opened the Grand Havana Room Moscow, a private cigar and business club for Russia’s elite.
Mr. Van Ronkel is currently contacting many more actors and bands to bring to Russia, while arranging a Dolph Lundgren film to shoot in Moscow in 2010 and developing two new television series for the United States, each of which will film in Russia and use Russian actors. He is presently seeking partners and sponsors for the exciting “Doors to Hollywood Film Festival" which will be held in Saint Petersburg and is tentatively planned for October, 2010.