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Yash Raj Films, Blackstone JV likely

June 12, 2007 01:36 IST

Filmmaker Yash Chopra is believed to be engaged in talks with private equity investor Blackstone to form a joint venture for movie exhibition initiative. The movie exhibition business will strengthen Yash Raj Films' presence in the media and entertainment space.

Chopra is planning to buy single-screen theatres and convert them into multi-screen theatres, depending on their viability. The new business is unlikely to operate under the Yash Raj Films banner. An email query sent to Blackstone got no response.

Yash Raj Films, the production house owned by Chopra, has already acquired two properties in Mumbai, Bahar Cinema in Andheri and Capitol Cinema in south Mumbai, according to sources. The production house is also looking at other metros, including Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Formed in 1970, the production house has come a long way from running a studio to distributing movies. It launched the music label called Yash Raj Music some years ago. The company also produces DVDs under the Yash Raj Films Home Entertainment label and started movie distribution last year with the Bollywood film, Krrish, followed by Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.

The existing multiplex owners have mixed feelings on Chopra's entry. Experts believe that his move is just a business extension and may not necessarily impact others in the industry. The multiplex owners earn 60 to 70 per cent of their annual box office revenues from films produced by Yash Raj Films. Of the 52 weeks in a year, 12 weeks are typically non-productive for the movie-theatre business.

Yash Raj Films accounts for almost half the movies during the remaining period. It makes four or five films annually that run for an average of three weeks. This makes it difficult for multiplexes to withstand aggressive bargaining deals from the house. With movie exhibition, Chopra will once again call the shots.

"The theatre business is growing into a lucrative business. Movies do well when released widely. Therefore, Yash Raj Films will not stop screening of its movies in competing theatres," said a leading theatre chain executive.

Aminah Sheikh in Mumbai