Mumbai: Independent filmed entertainment studio Lionsgate is planning to strengthen its distribution set up in India. The idea is to have a strong distribution operation running at maximum strength before the company invests capital on the film production side.
According to sources close to the development, Lionsgate has opened its office in the Mumbai suburbs of Goregaon. It may be recalled that Lionsgate had inked a joint venture deal with Indian film major – Eros International – earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival.
Speaking to Businessofcinema.com, a Lionsgate spokesperson said, "Our focus in India will be on distribution and making sure our product is being fully exploited in the territory. We are also exploring relationships on the television channel side through our Tiger Gate initiative in Southeast Asia led by William Pfeiffer, and we hope to have announcements on that front next year. New production is also on the horizon. Given the current economic climate, we want to make sure we have a distribution operation running at maximum strength before we put a significant amount of capital to work on the production side. We’re continuing to look at opportunities on the content front, but conservative fundamentals are shaping our growth initiatives."
The JV Company between Eros International and Lionsgate is called Eros Lionsgate, which will enable Lionsgate to monetize its library and new films within South Asia. Additionally, Eros Lionsgate will also be looking at re-making some of Lionsgate films like Dirty Dancing amongst others for the Indian market.
However, a CEO for the joint venture company has not yet been appointed. Currently, Lionsgate executive vice president international business development Paul Presburger is overseeing the relationship from Los Angeles. "As the venture continues to gather momentum in the coming year, we expect to appoint someone to help drive our vision," added the spokesperson.
Prior to the JV with Eros, Lionsgate had been selling its movies title by title to distributors in India. The company is now waiting for production to pick pace so as to provide films to the new JV for distribution. "We hope to release our first films in India through the joint venture in the first half of the New Year and we have already begun selling TV rights and discussing ideas for new projects," the spokesperson informed.
Citing the company’s focus on India, the spokesperson said "Lionsgate sees India as an important and untapped market for its content and for formats developed from its content which will cater specifically to the Indian market. India has the second largest English-speaking population in the world and a fast-growing middle class, and Lionsgate sees an opportunity to better exploit its current films and library as well as develop closer relationships in the region."
At the time of filing this story, Eros International chairman and CEO Kishore Lulla was not available for comment.
Amongst other international studios that operate in India are Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Films of India, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures Releasing of India and Fox Star Studios.