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Hollywood studios line up for Delhi-6
MUMBAI: Two of Hollywood’s major studios — Fox Searchlight (Slumdog Millionaire) and Sony Pictures Classic — and two independent studios — Lions Gate and Independent Film Channel (IFC) — are believed to be looking at picking up the rights for Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra-made Delhi-6 for a mainstream North American release. This is the first time that a Hollywood studio, major or independent, is looking at picking up a Hindi film after it has already been released in the US market.

Confirming this, Siddarth Roy Kapur, CEO of UTV Motion Pictures, which produced the Abhishek Bachchan starrer, said: “Following the success of Slumdog, the US audience has had a glimpse of India. This has increased their appetite for Indian movies. We have seen an interest for Delhi-6, which we are actively pursuing and will be screening the film for some interested parties.” Mr Kapur, however, was not willing to confirm the names of the studios.

The interest of the mainstream audience in North America for Indian cinema certainly follows the success of Slumdog, as can also be seen from the positive feedback that the US critics — who possibly watched the film in one of the 90 screens it was released in across the US — gave to Mr Mehra’s movie. However, since the current release is aimed more at the South Asian diaspora, Mr Kapur sees a huge potential waiting to be tapped with the new mainstream audience.

For one, for a movie like Delhi-6, a Hollywood studio would look at a platform release, which means that the release follows a pattern of releasing a small print run across some mainstream audiences. Such a release could tap, for instance, world cinema fans with 20-25 prints. Audiences could spread the word and the studios could then go in for a wider release, depending on the response.

A good response could see the release of 400-500 prints. The movie is likely to be get trimmed down from its current 2.20 minutes to two hours, keeping the western audiences in mind.

The potential of such a release — which would take at least six months to happen — according to studio sources, could gross at least Rs 10 crore for UTV if the deal goes through. This would include the money UTV would be paid upfront as well as the revenue share that would come to them following the release.

In the two weeks since the movie was released, multiplexes (PVR, Cinemax, Satyam, Inox and Fun) averaged 27% occupancy and grossed Rs 8 crore (according to ET’s Multiplex Tracker), while UTV pegs the overall gross across its 935 screens at Rs 40 crore, (the film’s budget was Rs 50 crore) with another Rs 12-13 crore coming from its 250 screens overseas, Rs 7 crore from its music rights to T-Series and Rs 4 crore from home video rights to Moser Baer. The satellite rights are still to be exploited. “There is definitely an audience out there that we need to tap and after the US, we will explore Europe for the same,” says Kapur.

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