In a major boost to Indian cinema's bid to globalise its operations, Bollywood player Eros International has signed a deal with Lionsgate, Hollywood's top independent studio, for the distribution of their films and third-party products in each other's markets.
The wide-ranging 50-50 partnership between the two companies was announced at Cannes, the world's biggest film market, by Lionsgate co-chairman and CEO Jon Feltheimer and chairman and CEO of the London-listed Eros International Kishore Lulla.
The deal will also allow the US company to pick up 20 films, including Eklavya, the Royal Guard and Gandhi, My Father, from Eros' library of 1,900 big screen titles for mainstream distribution in the US and help access India's large domestic market
Another interesting spin-offs of the agreement which is slated to emerge in the second phase of the partnership within 12 to 18 months will be Hindi remakes of Hollywood hits from Lionsgate's 12,000-strong catalogue and the first in the line could be Dirty Dancing.
Announcing the partnership, Lulla said: "We can now leverage our respective distribution networks and help monetise and unlock value from our deep libraries."
Feltheimer said the "exclusive" partnership will provide a superb opportunity to extend the Lionsgate brand to more than a billion new consumers worldwide as well as provide a platform for Eros content through its established network in North America.
According to Paul Presburger, Lionsgate's executive VP, international business development, the first title that has been identified for a Hindi-language rendition is Dirty Dancing.
"There are many romantic comedies in our library that too might be suitable for Indian remakes," Presburger added.
"We will not make art-house films like The Namesake nor tent-pole movies," he told PTI.
Eros Group's COO and commercial director Vidya Deshpande said the company will make medium budget films with crossover potential.
"We are not branching out in new directions. We are only seeking to build on our core competence. We already have stars lined up and it will be easy for us to mount and complete film projects quickly," she added.
Presburger said there was much untapped potential in the Indian market across all delivery platforms film distribution, TV, home video and new media.
"Our tie-up with Eros is in keeping with our strategy to have strong domestic partners in different countries. We have Televisa in Mexico, Studio Canal in France and now we have Eros in India."
"We are so bullish about India that we are already acquiring additional third-party content for distribution in the country," Presburger said.