Essel's E-City Entertainment ventures into Hollywood film distribution in India

MUMBAI: With plans to establish a chain of multiplexes under the Fun Republic brand across the country, the Essel group promoted E-city Entertainment has now started a strategic business unit for Hollywood movie distribution in India called E-City Films India Pvt Ltd.

To begin with, E -City films has acquired the rights for nine films including - Million Dollar Baby starring Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, The Truth about Love an offbeat and bittersweet comedy starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jimi Mistry and Dougray Scott; Joel Zwick's Elvis has left the Building, One dollar Curry and Alexander a 150 million budget film directed by Oliver Stone amongst others.

With the acquisition of these films, the company would be looking at the English film distribution market in India as a stand alone business.

Explaining the long-term strategy for the company, E -City Entertainment business head Ajay Gupta says, "The idea is to take this business ahead as an independent venture and we are in the process of building a team. I would actually call it a process of `backward integration' by way of consolidating film production, exhibition and distribution. We would be handling the Mumbai territory and over a period of time we'll be setting up alliances and offices across the country for distribution of these films."

This subsidiary of the Essel group promoted E-city Entertainment, hopes to acquire around 10-12 Hollywood films a year. Quoting figures, Gupta added, "If we look at the English movie market in India, the whole market can be pegged at approximately 100 cores and another 40 cores for the dubbed film market. In the next five years, we are looking at a 30 per cent growth in this business."

Queried on whether the idea behind the venture is also to cover programming time for the multiplexes, Gupta said, "Though these movies would cover some programming time in the multiplexes, but then one is really looking at film distribution as a stand alone venture; considering the fact that the multiplexes are giving us more than 60 per cent of the English movie business in India. And if in the future the opportunity exists, then we might even look at distributing Hindi films."

As far as the television content business goes, the company has succeeded in breaking newer ground in terms of targeting newer countries including Israel, China and Russia.

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