UFO Moviez to invest Rs 2 bn for Scrabble Entertainment's India expansion

MUMBAI: UFO Moviez, the Valuable Group-promoted digital cinema network, said today that it has committed an investment of Rs 2 billion to fuel the growth and expansion plans in India of Scrabble Entertainment.

UFO Moviez recently increased its stake in the company to 52 per cent, from earlier 26 per cent. It also said that the international roll out plans of Scrabble Entertainment will entail a capex of $150 million, which is to be funded by way of "international debt" and "further equity infusion by UFO Moviez".

UFO Moviez joint MD Kapil Agarwal said, "The UFO-Scrabble combine is the only alliance in the world that offers non DCI satellite based digital cinema solutions as well as DCI-compliant solutions with VPF (Virtual Print Fee) deals to the global and Indian film industry. By acquiring majority stake in Scrabble, UFO Moviez has reiterated its commitment to ensuring that the Indian film industry ecosystem benefits from the resulting cost-efficiency and increased reach of content by taking Hollywood content to cinema lovers across ?Bharat? and beyond its metros. We shall ensure that this Indian combine started by first generation entrepreneurs now goes global."

The UFO-Scrabble combine will now increase the number of DCI compliant cinemas from 300 (that Scrabble has presently installed in around 30 major cities since its inception in 2007) to 800 (single screens as well as multiplexes) within six months. This will ensure that cinema viewers in Tier II and Tier III cities in India will now get a chance to watch Hollywood content because the six Hollywood studios only give content to DCI compliant platforms, UFO said in a statement.

Scrabble Entertainment is promoted by Sunil Patil and Ranjit Thakur and is the only aggregator in India which has Virtual Print Fee rights from Hollywood studios for providing DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) compliant solutions. After UFO Moviez? acquiring controlling stake, Patil and Thakur own 27 per cent stake in the company, while the balance equity is held by Manmohan Shetty?s Walkwater Media.

Scrabble Entertainment CEO Thakur said, "Scrabble is happy to partner with UFO Moviez, an organisation that has changed the landscape of the film industry in India by offering innovative technology solutions for its betterment and growth. We look forward to ensuring that more and more audiences across India can now enjoy high quality films on a digital platform."

Scrabble Entertainment claims that it has already signed VPF deals with Hollywood studios and is now ready to go global in 10 countries - Middle East and Eastern Europe (UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus and Bulgaria). It is also looking very enthusiastically at expanding its footprints in Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico).

"Scrabble expects to install around 2000 screens internationally in the next two years, out of which deals for over 600 screens in the Middle East have already been finalised," the company said.

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