After Do Dooni Chaar, the first Hindi live-action movie distributed by The Walt Disney Company (Disney) in India, won a National Award, the Hollywood studio tied up with UTV Motion Pictures (UTV) for more. The two studios, which have had a long-standing association, have entered a movie co-production deal to bring out four to five new titles a year.
While Disney and UTV will share creative responsibilities such as conceptualisation and scripting for these films, UTV will manage the production, marketing and distribution. The deal is another testimony to Disney’s grand designs for the Indian entertainment market, after its entry in 2004. In 2006, the company acquired Indian children’s television channel, Hungama TV, and took an equity interest in media company UTV Software Communications.
The Disney Television Network currently comprises Disney Channel, Disney XD and Hungama TV; the network currently reaches over 71 million homes with Sun Distribution Services as the exclusive distribution partner.
So far as films go, it had earlier tied up with Yash Raj Films to produce its first Indian animation feature, Roadside Romeo, and after Do Dooni Chaar (co-produced with Planman Motion Pictures) it had gone on to make two other live-action movies. Meanwhile, Disney took on the task of distributing all its movies, scrapping an earlier year-old agreement with UTV for distribution in India. The new co-production partnership with UTV will be more comprehensive and of a longer term.
Walt Disney Company (India) Managing Director Mahesh Samat explains the need for such a tie-up. “Our strategy to build a truly Indian Walt Disney Company has mostly been about joint ventures with local partners. We have done that for our publishing and gaming businesses like we did for earlier movies. This one will be an alliance of equals, because it will leverage UTV’s success in movie-making in Bollywood and our history in story-telling for the entire family,” he says.
Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO of UTV Motion Pictures, points out another benefit. “These Hindi movies will be mainly for a South Asian audience. While we have a strong footprint in distributing movies for such an audience in theatres abroad, Disney will be able to help us with non-theatrical platforms, including digital. It has better synergies on these,” he adds.
Roy Kapur says the production of the first movie is in its final stages. The duo will also look to build larger franchises from some of the co-produced movies.