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Indian film makers get ticket to Hollywood May 17, 2008

Posted by lollywoodhungama in Uncategorized.

UTV and Percept have lined up over $100 million to produce at least five international films within the next one year. 



Indian film production houses are now all set to take the next big step to Hollywood. Home-grown production companies like UTV and Percept Picture Company have lined up over $100 million (Rs 420 crore) to produce at least five international films within the next one year.

It is learnt that the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group too has put together plans for its foray into Hollywood with a blockbuster. Delhi-based Bhupendra Kumar Modi also has similar plans. He has, in the past, talked of a big-budget film on the life of Buddha with Richard Gere and Shekhar Kapoor, who had made the critically-acclaimed Bandit Queen several years back.

UTV Motion Pictures, the movie arm of UTV, has begun the production of its first solo Hollywood film, Ex-Terminators, a dark comedy starring actress Heather Graham. It has an agreement with Hollywood actor Will Smith to produce two more Hollywood films.

To be fair, UTV is not a total stranger to Hollywood and its ways. It has co-produced international flicks like The Namesake, I Love My Wife and now M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening in which UTV has already invested over $27 million (Rs 109 crore). The Happening is slated to release next month and stars Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg.

Siddharth Roy Kapur, the chief executive officer of UTV Motion Pictures, says that the company is testing the waters with Ex-Terminators, a low-budget film made for as little as $2 million (Rs 8.4 crore). The money may not be big but the experience that UTV will get is invaluable.

“When Hollywood studios can come and make local films in India, we too can cross over and make Hollywood films,” Kapur says and adds: “We have co-produced three major international films and now we are confident of going solo.”

Percept will begin filming Racing the Monsoon featuring Michael Douglas by the end of the year. The company plans to do another international movie with a Pakistani director starting August.

Compared to Kapur, Shailendra Singh of Percept Picture is more cautious about international films. “Producing Hollywood films is not a big deal as it’s all about distribution and releasing them on time,” he says, adding: “We want to take it slow for now as we are already producing 27 films for the domestic market. The Michael Douglus film is a step towards Hollywood productions but we will not produce films if it will not make sense for consumers.”

It might be treading cautiously, but Percept too is no stranger to Hollywood — it has relationships with several Hollywood studios. It was responsible for distributing recent Hollywood flicks like SpiderMan-3 and Rush Hour-3.

Both UTV and Percept are aware that making Hollywood films is no child’s play and requires big bucks. Budgets can often run into hundreds of millions of dollars, unlike India where the most upscale films are made for around Rs 60 crore ($15 million).

In order to fund its film production and other film related business plans, Percept is looking at raising Rs 1,500 crore by way of debt, private equity funding and an initial public offer.

UTV Motion Pictures has already made announcements of lining up Rs 1,000 crore towards its film production business that includes its Hollywood entry and co-production films. UTV raised about $70 million from the Alternate Investment Market in London last year.



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