Shift work: UIP favors local distribs in India

London-based distrib trades in pact with Par for local deals

HOLLYWOOD — United Intl. Pictures has shaken up its distribution relationships in India, where Hollywood movies account for 10% of the B.O. cume.

The London-based distrib — which is owned by Universal and Paramount and handles the releases of U, Par and DreamWorks product — has replaced an exclusive arrangement with Paramount Films of India with four local deals.

PVR Pictures will distribute UIP titles in Delhi and Gurgaon; Eurasia Visuals will handle in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and East Punjab; Shringar Films will release in Maharashtra, Gujurat and Central India. Hansa Pictures will distribute in the southern regions of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh Karnataka and Kerala with versions dubbed into Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam and Kannada.

PFI, headed by Sarabjit Singh, will continue to handle the UIP slate in the major cities.

The four local firms are understood to be handling titles on a revenue-sharing basis, which minimizes UIP’s local overhead costs in a tough-to-judge market.

Deals launch with ‘War’

First pic out under the new arrangements is “War of the Worlds,” slated for Friday in India. It will be followed by “The Interpreter,” “Hand of the Dead” and “Red Eye.”

Kurt Reider, UIP’s senior veep of sales and marketing for Asia, said the shakeup is intended to allow the distrib to become more responsive to local conditions and to become more assertive. “Now that we have an alliance with these four players, we can be a bit more aggressive and spend a bit more money,” he said. “One factor that will help is the multiplex boom. This enables us to bring a bigger variety of films.”

In some years UIP has released little more than 50% of its potential slate in India, with the market previously cooler on some genres than others. “It is nice to see the growing interest in comedies, history films and Oscar winners,” Reider said.

Reider acknowledged piracy remains a major problem in the territory, especially affecting old-fashioned, single-screen hardtops. But he said UIP expects more out of India than China, in the near term as the relative lack of government intervention allows Hollywood to operate on a more even basis with the local industry. Japan, Taiwan and South Korea account for more than 75% of UIP’s Asian B.O.

UIP’s revision of its Indian arrangements follows the closure of Fox’s local offshoot and Miramax’s tie up with local distrib UTV.

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