ADAG's Hollywood deal signals bigger role for India.
MUMBAI: The Anil Ambani-led group's deals with eight Hollywood production houses gives credence to the prediction of American billionaire investor George Soros that India will play "a crucial role" in the global entertainment and media industry in the coming years.
Soros made this remark while investing $100 million in Reliance BIG Entertainment last year.
The announcement at Cannes on Sunday also came a week after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) announced the appointment of Bedi A Singh, an Indian based in the USA, as president, finance and administration and chief financial officer of MGM.
Singh, until recently the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Gemster-TV Guide International, will report directly to Harry E Sloan, chairman and CEO of MGM.
Though these two incidents are unrelated, they corroborate the fact that the Indian presence in Hollywood is gradually increasing and the Reliance BIG Entertainment's deals, by far the biggest by an Indian (billionaire Anil Ambani), has given the rising trend a big boost.
The company's first major media investment abroad, it will enhance its global presence and will indirectly provide India's emerging image of an economic powerhouse an extra sheen.
"It's a big deal. I think, every Indian should feel proud that an Indian company has made such an empathic inroad into Hollywood. Though it is essentially a business deal, it will improve India's image abroad," Manmohan Shetty, the erstwhile CEO of Reliance-Adlabs, told reporters.
UTV is another Indian company which has now made its presence felt in Hollywood. Its co-production venture with 20th Century Fox, "The Happening," directed by Manoj Night Shyamalan. Is due for release next month.
Till recently, it was the only Indian company to have projects with major Hollywood studios like Walt Disney (which has bought 32.10 percent stake, valued $230 million, in the company) and a tie-up deal with Will Smith's production house, Overbrooks, to produce two movies, one a live-action and the animation.
It has also announced its first independent Hollywood venture "Ex-terminators"
UTV admits that Reliance BIG Entertainment's Hollywood deal is spectacular.
"I personally have nothing to comment on the deal because I do not know the details. But, from what appears in the newspapers, it seems a good business deal, good for the company," remarked Siddharth Roy Kapoor, CEO of UTV Motion Pictures.
Bollywood's independent producers and production houses have also reacted positively to the Reliance BIG Entetainment's Hollywood deal.
"But I do not see how this particular deal will help Bollywood as Reliance BIG Entertainment will invest in Hollywood. Yes, I agree, it will improve India's image abroad," Shyam Shroff, of India's renowned distribution firm, Shringar Films, which also runs the Fame multiplex chain, told reporters.
After having sealed its partnership deals with eight major studios and its co-financing arrangement with a few independent production houses of such stars as Nicholas Cage, Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey, Reliance BIG Entertainment has emerged truly as a fully integrated movie company with stakes in every department of film trade - production, distribution, exhibition, and post-production.
About 200 exhibition outlets that Reliance BIG Entertainment has bought over in cities across North America, not to speak of its properties in India, will give the company an edge to market its movie products and retain its hold over them.
For Reliance BIG Entertainment, the Hollywood deal is only a first step towards making big strides in the global entertainment domain as a "new generation media company," as Reliance ADA Group describes it.