Hollywood woos Bollywood for bigger hits

Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:40am EDT
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By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The tale of a dog finding true love after being abandoned in a Mumbai slum is Walt Disney Co's first stab at a local-language film in India, and signals Hollywood's serious intentions in the fast growing market.

Disney is partnering India's Yash Raj Films for the Hindi-language animated flick 'Roadside Romeo' that opens on Friday, Disney's first local partnership for an Indian film.

Disney, which has also bought a children's Hindi-language television channel, is now eyeing regional films, as are NBC, Viacom, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers and Twentieth Century Fox.

"For Hollywood studios, expanding globally no longer means only pushing their product in these markets," said Smita Jha, entertainment analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

The entertainment and media industry in emerging markets such as China, India and Russia is forecast to grow at more than double the pace in developed markets, with India growing the fastest pace, PWC said in a recent report.

China's heavily regulated market makes India a better bet, with India's entertainment and industry market revenues forecast to expand at an average rate of 18.5 percent to more than $36 billion by 2012, PWC said.

Now, about 95 percent of consumer spending in this market in is on local films. Now Hollywood studios, that were earlier content with just dubbing their blockbusters in regional Indian languages or financing productions, want more.

Sony Pictures Entertainment recently released its maiden Hindi film, 'Saawariya' (Beloved), while Warner Bros' first, 'Chandni Chowk to China' is scheduled for release in early 2009, and Fox Star Studios is signing on Bollywood producers.   Continued...

<p>A man walks past an Indian movie poster inside a cinema in Karachi April 21, 2008. REUTERS/Athar Hussain</p>