UTV to co-produce M Night Shyamalan’s film

MUMBAI: UTV Motion Pictures will be co-producing M Night Shyamalan’s next Sci-Fi thriller titled The Happening along with 20th Century Fox.

As has already been reported by Businessofcinema.com, 20th Century Fox gave the green signal to Shyamalan’s movie earlier this month. The Happening, which was earlier titled The Green Effect, has an estimated budget of $57 million and Fox and UTV will be investing $28.5 million (50 per cent) each in the project.

Shyamalan will hold the full IPR (intellectual property rights) of the movie and will also have a 25 per cent share in all revenues earned by the movie at any given point in time.

The Happening will go on floors in August this year and is scheduled to release in mid-2008. Closer to the release date, the two studios will be spending close to $ 60 million in P&A (prints & advertising) activities to promote the film in the US alone, informs UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala.

“Night is an immensely talented writer–director. We have developed a great chemistry ever since our first conversation about two months back and I am really glad things moved fast to allow us to work together. With 20th Century Fox, the number one movie studio in the world and the reputation of having the best marketing and distribution set up in the US and worldwide on board with us, this Sci-Fi thriller is going to get the best worldwide release,” he adds.

Speaking on the advantages of film co-productions from his office in Philadelphia, Shyamalan adds, “The outlook of major studios is now changing. They would rather be involved in 20 co-productions than 10 productions of their own at the same cost in order to cut the risk by half and also have a larger slate. More and more Hollywood studios are now adopting that approach in 2007, which is a major advantage.”

The Happening is a film focusing on “Earth vs Man” issues and portraying the environment as the victim of mankind’s villainy. Most of the shooting is currently taking place on the East Coast of America and in Philadelphia, which happens to be Shyamalan’s hometown.

“I always had a desire to do something in India, and stay connected to India. This collaboration with UTV is a perfect opportunity to stay connected and cultivate a relationship in India,” says Shyamalan.

UTV’s other two international co-productions with Fox Searchlight Pictures are Mira Nair’s The Namesake and Chris Rock’s I Think I Love My WifeThe Namesake will be released in India on 23 March, whereas the release date of the latter film hasn’t been decided as yet. “We may not have a very big India release of I Think I Love My Wife because it is a very American movie with an Afro-American storyline. In fact we might not release it theatrically in India at all and go straight to DVD. At this point in time we haven’t really decided,” informs Screwvala.

UTV also has two co-productions with Hollywood actor Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment in the pipeline.

Shyamalan has directed hits such as Signs, Sixth Sense, The Village and Unbreakable among others. In this latest Sci-Fi thriller, The Happening, Night returns to his Signs genre. He is also currently working on on the script of Avatar: The Last Airbender, a live action film for Paramount.

Related story:
Fox nod for M Night Shyamalan’s next

UTV Motion Pictures set for three releases in March

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