MUMBAI: After the likes of Viacom, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures, now it is media baron Rupert Murdoch’s motion picture studio 20th Century Fox that is eyeing Bollywood yet again. 20th Century Fox is a part of News Corp.
According to sources close to the development, Fox is planning to form a joint venture with its sister company Star India for its motion picture business.
When contacted by Businessofcinema.com, Star India spokesperson Yash Khanna declined to comment on the development. An email query sent for the same also went unanswered till the time of filing this story.
Sources add that Fox will be making key appointments from the Star India team and is also scouting for professionals from outside the group. "Some appointments have already been made, wherein the company has roped in executives from Star’s channels," says a source close to the development.
Incidentally, this is not Fox’s first try at Bollywood. In 2002-03, the company had worked closely on Ram Gopal Varma’s film Ek Haseena Thi, which was directed by Sriram Raghavan. Fox was involved in the film’s production from its scripting stage. This was the first Hindi film that the studio distributed in India. The film starred Urmila Matondkar and Saif Ali Khan.
Additionally, Fox had also distributed some other Hindi films like Pritish Nandy Communications’ Jhankaar Beats amongst others. Fox’s Indian operations were then headed by People Pictures CEO Aditya Shashtri. However, the company’s distribution arm shut shop in 2005, post which the studios’ Hollywood films were distributed by Warner Bros in India.
Last year, 20th Century Fox theatrically released its Hollywood film Night at the Museum in Hindi and across India. No English prints of the movie were released here. The English version was directly released on home video. This was the first time a Hollywood movie had a nationwide release only in Hindi.
On another note, in March last year, Ronnie Screwvala’s UTV entered into a co-production with 20th Century Fox for M Night Shyamalan’s next film – The Happening. The movie, being made on a budget of $ 57 million stars Mark Wahlberg and is slated to release in June this year.
The Indian film business has been seeing a lot of action lately. Sony Pictures’ first Indian co-production venture Saawariya released last year. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed film saw the debut of actors Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. Walt Disney Studios, on the other hand, has tied up with Yash Raj Films for an animation film called Roadside Romeo. The film is slated for a release this year and is being directed by actor-turned-director Jugal Hansraj. Roadside Romeo will have voices of Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Javed Jaffrey.
Additionally, last year, Warner Bros India entered a distribution deal with Orion Pictures for Chandni Chowk To China. The film starring Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone is being directed by Nikhil Advani. Shooting for the film is currently on in China.