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Production majors Disney UTV Studios and Fox Star Studios have increased their focus on South India to stake a claim to a larger share of the booming cinema market there. Both the studios have declared a slew of projects down South for 2014. Disney UTV Studios said it would produce or co-produce five movies in South India — four in Tamil and one in Telugu. In Tamil, the studio will come out with Naan Sigappu Manithan, starring Vishal and Laxmi Menon; an untitled project with south Indian superstar Suriya; Sigaram Thodu starring Vikram Prabhu, Sathyraj (who played Deepika Padukone’s father in Chennai Express); and Purampokku featuring Arya, Vijay Sethupathi and Karthika. In Telugu, the studio would put its might behind an untitled film with reigning superstar Mahesh Babu. Fox Star Studios would use its partnership with C V Kumar’s Chennai-based Thirukumaran Entertainment for V Chitram and Mundasupatti, and make Cukkoo with Next Big Films.
The studio would again partner with Atlee Kumar, who recently delivered a breakaway hit for Fox Star Studios with Raja Rani. The trend of major houses eyeing South markets began recently. In 2013, Disney UTV had produced three Tamil movies – Settai (box office collection Rs 15.10 crore), Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru (Rs 15.97 crore) and Ivan Veramathiri (Rs 10.5 crore) In a recent interview, Siddharth Roy Kapur, managing director, The Walt Disney Company India, said Disney UTV Studios would focus on the Tamil and Telugu movie markets in a big way in 2014. “Those are markets we have got to learn (about) and understand much better over the years.” According to industry sources, the South Indian box office was estimated at Rs 780 crore to Rs 800 crore in 2013 (net after tax). In 2012, it was Rs 740 crore to Rs 750 crore. Commenting on the studio’s focus on the South, Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, said the company was focused on increasing presence in the Tamil film industry. “While we have extended our successful association in Tamil with A R Murugadoss to Hindi as well, we are also increasing our footprint in the Tamil industry by partnering with C V Kumar’s Thirukumaran Entertainment. C V Kumar has proven himself as one of the market leaders who is highly concept driven with budget conscious — qualities that resonate well with our brand,” he added. The 2013 Ficci-KPMG’s report on media and entertainment had predicted that big Bollywood production houses would look at collaborating with filmmakers in the regional space. The reasons: Lower cost of production, lower marketing spends (as audiences are comparatively niche) and a wider theatrical window for the movie to run at the box office.
IN THE PIPELINE Disney UTV Studios Tamil: Naan Sigappu Manithan, Purampokku, Sigaram Thodu and an untitled project starring superstar Suriya Telugu: Untitled project starring Mahesh Babu Fox Star Studios Tamil: V Chitram, Mundasupatti, Cukkoo and an untitled project with Atlee Kumar Source: Disney UTV Studios and Fox Star Studios, Industry