Indian Film Company to invest Rs 1.6 billion in movie slate

MUMBAI: AIM listed The Indian Film Company (TIFC) is looking at investing a corpus of Rs 1.6 billion (£20.63 million) towards film projects post 31 March 2009.

These film commitments will be funded through cash generated by the group from exploitation of film rights. The group is also evaluating the option of raising debt to fund some of its future investments in film projects.

As at 31 March 2009, the TIFC held cash balances of £0.94 million (£3.28 million including the term deposit) and had exploitation rights and investments in films and films under production with an aggregate carrying value of £52.06 million.

For the year ended 31 March, the company’s revenues soared to £40.9 million from year ago £11.4 million. Contributors to the revenue were theatrical release, music, home video, television and other ancillary rights of films. The company’s operating pretax profit rose to £4.6 million from £2.2 million last year.

Net profit rose 98.5 per cent to £3.89 million as compared to £1.96 million last year. The company released eight films like Ghajini, Singh Is Kinng, Kidnap, Golmaal Returns and Little Zizou amongst others during the financial year.

TIFC is expected to benefit from the new revenue sharing terms that were agreed upon by the United Producers and Distributors Forum (UPDF) and multiplex owners. As a result of this, revenues will increase from domestic box office for its upcoming releases.

The company plans to release nine productions and co-productions in the next financial year. The Group’s portfolio comprises of 35 films and a library of 54 rights bought exclusively for television syndication.

TIFC’s co-productions are Loot, Striker, King Kaun, Kaun Bola, Life Partner, Road Movie, Paanch Pandav, It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, Banda Yeh Bindass Hai and Tamil Unlimited.

TIFC is increasing its focus on mounting its own productions, which are in various stages of scripting, casting, shooting and post-production. Some of these are: 7 Days in Paris, Italian Job remake, Game, Ishq Unplugged, Fruit ‘N’ Nut, Bombay Velvet and untitled films by directors like David Dhawan, Anees Bazmee, Sabal S Shekhawat, Soham Shah, Amrit Sagar and Priyadarshan. These films will be released over the next two years.

TIFC Investment Adviser CEO Sandeep Bhargava said, "I am delighted that our success in the financial year has demonstrated the strength of our formula, illustrated by the numerous box office records broken by both Ghajini and Singh Is Kinng. In addition, we have established IFC as a truly global player with the internationally acclaimed Little Zizou, Gurinder Chadha’s It’s A Wonderful Afterlife and Road, Movie – the first Indian production ever to be picked up at Cannes, and we look forward to 2010 with confidence."

"The success ratio of films in 2008 was lower than that of 2007, with many of the big releases having performed below expectations at the box office in the first half of 2008. In addition, IPL matches affected the attendance levels at cinemas. There was however a marked improvement in the second half of 2008, with big-ticket releases leading to increased attendance rates at cinemas. Industry estimates indicate a flat growth rate for the filmed entertainment segment over the next year due to fewer releases, lower expected attendance rates and lower returns forecast from C&S and ancillary revenue streams. Despite the overall gloomy economic environment, the group has been able to deliver good financial results and with a strong slate of films, the group is poised to expand with a healthy growth rate in the year ending 31 March 2010," added TIFC chairman Shyam Benegal.

"Competition continues to be high in the industry. The number of corporates continues to grow with new funds entering the industry creating larger pools of money available for talent and content acquisition. Quality content continues to be expensive. Top talent is limited and is highly sought after by numerous studios, which keeps their remuneration high. During the year under review, Disney and Warner Brothers released two of their Bollywood ventures. Although these films performed dismally at the box office, it has not deterred the studios from entering into new ventures. We continue to live in difficult times where the competition is high, talent is scarce and creativity is selective. The Group continuously endeavours to select projects that have capacity to entertain and content that attracts audiences and is commercially viable," said Television 18 chairman and managing director Raghav Bahl.

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