Sony Pictures bullish on international co-productions

MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) recently announced its foray into Hindi films when the company signed a co-production deal with Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Saawariya (Beloved).

SPE officials (who were in India recently with Sony Corp CEO Howard Stringer to celebrate Sony Entertainment Television's 10th anniversary) are quite gung ho about this deal with Bhansali and are also looking at other such ventures.

Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group vice chairman Gareth Wigan will be responsible for overseeing all international productions for the company.

Citing the reason for the company's foray into Bollywood co-production, Wigan said, "We started production in several international markets like China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Brazil and Germany. India was always on our map as we expanded along. We have high regard for the talent here and would want to work closely with the industry here. India has a very successful and diversified national film market. At the same time, Indians are by nature extremely 'film' loving and it forms a big portion of their leisure time. We at Hollywood find this fascinating and are excited to begin our journey here."

However, this is not SPE's first international co-production One of the movies that the company is co-produced is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which won the Oscars for the best international film and has grossed nearly $ 200+ million.

Apart from this Kung Fu Hustle from China too was successful with a worldwide gross of $105 million. Anatomie from Germany, Me You and Them from Brazil and El Crimen Del Padre Amaro from Mexico are some of the other international co-productions from SPE's stable.

Throwing light on the attributes that SPE looks for in a co-production partner, Wigan said, "Essentially we look at their work / films and of course a common desire to work together. We have to share the makers vision. We also look at the appeal of the project in the domestic market, in this case the domestic market being India and also the potential appeal in the international market."

When queried as to whether SPE was also looking at other language productions, Wigan said, "Yes, we will be looking at other language productions but as of now now we would like to focus on our first project. We have no set target as to the number of international films we would co-produce in a year."

What are the advantages of such a venture for the company? Wigan informs that this will give SPE an opportunity to work with "great minds who have great creativity."

"The finished product becomes a part of our assets and enhances our library value. From a distribution perspective, successful films are profitable," he concludes.

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