Television

UTV to co-produce three feature films with Star

MUMBAI: Production house UTV, this morning, inked a three feature film deal with Star India. The deal envisages production of three big budget movies (each estimated to cost around Rs 250 to Rs 300 million) in the first phase. 

Star will fund the entire production in return for co-sharing certain rights, according to UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala.

All the three films, scheduled to go on the floors within the next three months, are to be released 18 months from now. Project specifics would be detailed only by January 2004, Screwvala said. UTV, which currently has the under production Lakshya and Swades in its kitty, has undertaken full production responsibility from concept to execution and release. Star is expected to provide cross marketing media muscle to the enterprise to promote the movies in India and abroad. 

In return, Star would get the satellite telecast rights, worldwide in perpetuity, while UTV gets the theatrical and home video rights. The films will be aired on television one year after the theatrical release, Screwvala says.

The UTV CEO, meanwhile, maintains that the deal is a step towards corporatisation of the fragmented movie industry in the country and that it signifies that feature films are indeed the 'business of the future'. The feature film division of UTV would not go beyond constituting 20 per cent of UTV's total business that comprises television software production and animation along with movie production. 

UTV has been dabbling in feature film production for the last four years and has had a better track record than other TV software production houses, which have met with little success on the big screen.

Screwvala claims to have had 11 hits out of a total of 14 releases, the latest being the Shah Rukh Khan - Rani Mukherjee starrer Chalte Chalte. While Lagaan, Fiza, Mission Kashmir and Sarfarosh have been some of the other success stories, the company is currently keeping its fingers crossed for Lakshya and Swades - both pegged at Rs 300 million each.

While Lakshya, a joint production with director Farhan Akhtar's Excel entertainment, shot in Ladakh, is nearly 90 per cent complete and awaiting a mid 2004 release, Swades, a co production with Lagaan director Ashutosh Gowarikar will roll only in November this year and is scheduled to be released by the tail end of 2004. All these ventures of UTV have had varied co - production arrangements.

The deal with Star however, is not exclusive, enabling UTV to go in for similar arrangements with other media partners.

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