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TV18 Group takes movie rights purchases to new heights

By Surajeet Das Gupta & Aminah Sheikh in New Delhi/Mumbai
September 06, 2007 00:59 IST
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Raghav Bahl-promoted media company Television Eighteen Group is paying over Rs 340 crore to buy out the rights of films in two of Bollywood's biggest movie deals.

The bigger of the two deals is a Rs 250-260 crore buyout of the rights for six films that include a sequel to Shah Rukh Khan-starrer <i>Don</i> and <i>Voice</i> from Excel Entertainment -- the production company owned by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani.

<i>Don 2</i> and <i>Voice</i> will be directed by Akhtar and the others by new or younger film makers. A TV18 group executive declined to comment.

TV18 is also close to tying the knot with Sohail Khan Productions (owned by Salman Khan's brother) for a three-film deal. This Rs 95-crore deal includes a sequel to the Salman Khan and Govinda blockbuster <i>Partner</i> and another film to be titled <i>Mr and Mrs Khanna</i>.

A few months ago, Network 18, the holding company of the TV18 Group, had formed a film investment and intellectual property rights company called The Indian Film Company. IFC, which was listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange in June, raised around Rs 445 crore that was used to acquire rights of films, exploit theatrical, satellite and home entertainment rights for the domestic and overseas markets and own IPR.

Recently, IFC acquired the rights for Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor-starrer <i>Jab We Met</i> from production house Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision.

On the other hand, the group's film production house Studio 18 will continue to produce and distribute Bollywood films.

The studio has distributed Hindi films like <i>Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, Kya Love Story Hai</i> and <i>1971</i>.

It has also co-produced <i>Halla Bol</i> with filmmaker Raj Kumar Santoshi. Last year, Studio 18 had signed a four-film co-production deal with Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision.

Industry experts, however, say that the mega prices that companies like TV18 are paying for film rights have seen prices jump 50 to 60 per cent in the last six months. "To recover Rs 340 crore the movies must make a box office collection of over Rs 700 crore and that is difficult to imagine," said an industry analyst.

TV18 faces competition from many other film companies that are also making similarly aggressive moves.

These include Eros Entertainment which bought the world rights of Om Shanti Om for Rs 70 crore. Eros International has a five-year deal with K Sera Sera, a three-year deal with Venus and a four-film deal with Sajid Nadiadwala.

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Surajeet Das Gupta & Aminah Sheikh in New Delhi/Mumbai
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