Indian Film Company commits $32 mn in upcoming projects

MUMBAI: Raghav Bahl-driven Indian Film Company (IFC) is ready to pump in ?20.63 million ($32.12 million) towards its upcoming film projects.

The Aim-listed company will predominantly fund these projects through cash generated by the group from exploitation of film rights. The Group is also evaluating the option of raising debt to fund some of its future investments in film projects.

The company has lined up nine movies to release in FY 2010. It has acquired rights to two films while it will be co-producing the rest.

Meanwhile, riding high on the success of movies like Ghajini and Singh Is Kinng, the company‘s net profit has surged 98.5 per cent to ?3.89 million for the year ended 31 March 2009, as compared to Rs ?1.96 million a year ago.

Revenue stood at ?40.90 million, as against ?11.45 million in FY‘08.

During the year under review, IFC has released eight films (Bhoothnath, Panduranga, Singh Is Kinng, Kidnap, Golmaal Returns, Dil Kabaddi, Ghajini and Little Zizou).

Released in the fag end of the calendar year 2008, Ghajini broke all existing records at the Indian box office to gross ?26.83 million (Rs 1.95 billion) with 1,500 screens. Singh Is Kinng, which was released in August 2008, grossed ?15.14 million (Rs 1.10 billion).

The group also ventured into world cinema with three co-productions; Little Zizou, It‘s a Wonderful Afterlife and Road Movie. International sales agents have been secured already to sell these three films outside of India.

IFC has also acquired the remake rights of the Hollywood film Italian Job from Paramount Studios, and script writing and casting are underway.

A big benchmark for the company was the selling of music rights with defined period contracts, including the music rights to Singh Is Kinng, which were sold for Rs 107 million (?1.47 million).

“Despite the overall gloomy economic environment, the group has been able to deliver good financial results and with a strong slate of films, is poised to expand with a healthy growth rate in the year ending 31 March 2010,” says IFC chairman Shyam Benegal.

IFC held cash balances of ?0.94 million (?3.28 million including the term deposit) and had exploitation rights and investments in films and films under production with an aggregate carrying value of ?52.06 million till 31 March 2009.

At present, with a portfolio comprising 35 films and a library of 54 rights bought exclusively for television syndication, the group is continuing to build on its strategy to develop and expand its library of rights for television syndication in the year under review. The television syndication model entails the sale of limited telecast rights for a limited period to multiple players. This model was extended to the overseas territories of the UK, North America, Asia and Europe.

IFC plans to increase its own production slate. “The group is increasing its focus on mounting its own productions, which are in various stages of scripting, casting, shooting and post-production. The Group will be releasing some of its own productions over the next two years,” Benegal adds.

While talking about competition, Bahl says, “We continue to live in difficult times where the competition is high, talent is scarce and creativity is selective. The group continuously endeavours to select projects that have capacity to entertain and content that attracts audiences and is commercially viable.”

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