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IFFI to screen Ashok Amritraj films

November 19, 2004 11:54 IST

The stage has been set to honour the India-born Hollywood producer Ashok Amritraj at the 35th International Film Festival of India to be held in Goa between November 29 and December 9, 2004.

A special showcase of five of the films produced by his company, Hyde Park Entertainment, will be screened during the festival under the title "Spotlight on Ashok Amritraj, an Indian Success Story in Hollywood".

Amritraj will fly down from Los Angeles for the event. Among the films to be screened include "Moonlight Mile" directed by Brad Silberling and featuring the Academy Award winners Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon and Holly Hunter, "Raising Helen", "Bandits", "Walking Tall", and "Bringing Down the House". "Walking Tall", directed by Kevin Bray, has grossed over $100 million since its release in May 2004.

The former tennis star, who played most major tournaments including Wimbeldon and the US Open drifted into Hollywood in the mid 1980s to set up Hyde Park Entertainment.

In the last 20 years his company has produced nearly 80 films in partnership studios such as Walt Disney, MGM and Dreamworks among others.

"Hyde Park operates more in partnership with the big studios rather than compete with them as an independent company," said Ashok Amritraj, the company's chairman and CEO, replying to a Business Standard questionnaire on email. On an average, Hyde Park produces four films a year costing between $20 million and $ 90 million each.

More recently, the company teamed up with the UK funds manager the Brass Hat Group that will pump $400 million into Hyde Park. "This will partly finance a slew of Hyde Park pictures over the next five years," said Amritraj.

He evaded queries on his company's plans to enter the Indian film industry. "Ours is an international company producing Hollywood films. We will shoot one film in India next year," he said.

However, commenting on the Indian film industry he said that it was at crossroads and, "in my opinion, needs to decide whether to corporatise or remain as a family business. This would determine the speed and growth of various emerging markets for the Indian film industry."

"Bringing Down the house" has been Amritraj's biggest blockbuster till date. The company's new film "Shopgirl"will be released by The Walt Disney Company while  "Dreamer" will be released by Dreamworks.
Shuchi Bansal in New Delhi