Big Magic acquires adaptation rights of 'The Middle' from Warner Bros

MUMBAI: Reliance Broadcast Network's Hindi comedy channel Big Magic has acquired the adaptation rights to Warner Bros' popular American sitcom The Middle.

Reliance Broadcast Network's creative head Paritosh Painter and his production team will work closely with Warner Bros. to rewrite the script in Hindi for Indian audiences.

What's more, given the potential for the show, the channel is betting big on it. Plans are to market it via campaigns across TV, radio and digital mediums. The channel has earmarked marketing spends of Rs 3 - 5 crore for the same. 

“Apart from our own radio and television platforms, we are looking forward to engage other media in promoting the launch of the show. Digitally, our in-house marketing team is engaging viewers with the campaigns. Excluding our own media holdings, we are looking at a figure of around Rs 3-4 crore in media spends, which can easily cross the Rs 5 crore mark if we take our media platforms into consideration,” said Reliance Broadcast Network EVP and business head Ashwin Padmanabhan, adding that there will be limited OOH campaign done for this show.

This six-season-long show The Middle, which ran on the ABC network, draws its comic inspiration from the day to day lives of a highly dysfunctional middle class family. Big Magic believes that the theme will strike a chord with Indian viewers as well. 

“The main characters of The Middle, the parents and their three kids are unique and very different from one another, which gives The Middle a huge potential to be recreated in an Indian setting. Moreover it fits well with the kids and family time slot we are aiming at for our evening band,” said Padmanabhan.

Big Magic was in talks with Warner Bros, the television distributors of the original show, for some time and the deal was signed 45 days ago.

With an aim to air the pilot episode by 1 June, the shooting for the show, which will have an Indian twist to the tale, started a week back with the new Indian star cast. 

Actress Ami Trivedi has been cast as the mother while Iqbal Azad plays the father. Sushant Mohindra, Saloni Daini, and Dharmik Joisar have taken up the characters of the eldest son, middle daughter and the youngest boy respectively.

Apart from the fact that the show will have a Hindi name, Padmanabhan refused to reveal further details about its title.

While the crux of the sitcom’s story makes for engaging television content for Indian viewers, the social setting of the characters are vastly different. Keeping that in mind, when queried as to how much of the content Big Magic was looking to Indianise, Padmanabhan said, “We are keeping the main storyboard of all the seasons intact structurally, and the character personalities and their internal conflicts will also be true to the originals. But we are rewriting the parts where the story influenced by the character’s social and cultural surroundings.” 

The channel is currently looking at two majorly distinctive time slots in terms of its target comedy consumers -- the 7 - 9 pm slot where the viewers are mostly kids and teens, which gradually shifts to family audience by 11 pm. "Post 11 pm, our target viewers are mostly the male members in the family. Shows that will be scheduled post 11 pm will be more edgy,” Padmanabham said. 

The campaign for the launch of this show will be closely followed by a bigger campaign for the entire channel where Big Magic is looking to engage in more OOH services. These campaigns are closely related to the new content strategy that the channel has adopted.

Padmanabhan also hinted at two new show launches in a couple of weeks that will be aimed at the male audience, apart from another short form comedy show like Googly, which will have a topical and more dynamic format.

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