If there is one thing Relativity Media head Ryan Kavanaugh likes, it’s making deals. He’s hammered out a joint venture with Bollywood film and TV network B4U that, the announcement says, will leverage their combined expertise, relationships and resources to create and distribute highly engaging long and short form entertainment and sports content in India, spanning film, television and digital. The plan calls for them to co-finance, co-produce and distribute Indian-language films and television shows and acquire projects in the U.S. and Indian markets; distribute third-party content in India and select Bollywood films in the U.S.; create and launch a new pay television channel in India focused on Hollywood content in both English and Hindi; launch “RelaTV” – a digital streaming technology platform to deliver compelling short- and longform content to Indian consumers; and co-produce a slate of Hollywood films including the Nicholas Sparks novel adaptation The Best Of Me. There is $100 million for co-productions, they said.
Now, the track record for cross-pollination between India and Hollywood has been sketchy so far. Reliance must still be scratching their heads after backing first-look deals with top acting and directing talent and getting nothing to show for it. They’ve fared better with DreamWorks, but that company has an uncertain future, as Steven Spielberg’s partner Stacey Snider negotiates her way to a top exec job at Fox. India’s UTV made forays with stars including Will Smith and Overbrook, and M. Night Shyamalan, but they didn’t lead to much, either.
On paper, the appeal into expansion in India is a no-brainer. There is rapid urbanization, multiplex growth and content is prized. “By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country, and its citizens are adopting new technology platforms – from smartphones to smart TVs – at a dramatic rate,” Kavanaugh said. “This joint venture positions us well to deliver enthralling content across rapidly emerging distribution channels.” (more…)