WB gets Fox deal in India

News comes in a year of record earnings

NEW DELHI — Warner Bros. is about to ink a deal to distribute movies in India from the 20th Century Fox stable, which shuttered local operations last month after four years of losses and mismanagement, according to an Indian industry source.

“Warners is entering into a distribution deal with 20th Century Fox,” said a source quoted by the reputable Indiantelevision.com Web site. “This will mean that 20th Century Fox will release its movies in India through Warners.”

In early February, Fox said it was winding up its 73-year-old Mumbai-based Indian distribution arm.

Closure came after the exit of its India chief, Aditya Shastri, who shifted to UTV as the chief exec of its motion picture biz.

The news surprised local industryites as it comes in a year of record earnings posted by the Indian distrib arms of Warner Bros. and Columbia TriStar.

“Spider-Man 2” grossed more than 350 million rupees ($8 million) last year to become the second-highest-grossing English language pic in India after “Titanic,” which made more than $11.5 million. Fox India’s last release was “Garfield: The Movie,” which made $5,700.

Fox India had recently begun distribbing Bollywood films, tying up with helmer Ram Gopal Varma to distribute “Ek hasina thi” (There Was a Beauty) last year. It also released helmer Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Bollywood Calling” (2001), Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s “Pinjar” (2003) and Khalid Mohamed’s “Tehzeeb” (2003).

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