Bollywood dreams

Indian conglom partners on slate of pics

While studios have been investing in Bollywood productions, an Indian conglom is dipping its toe into the Hollywood film pool.

Adlabs has pacted with Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment for a five-year, multimillion-dollar, multipic deal.

Adlabs, a unit of Reliance Corp., will be a 50-50 partner with Hyde Park on a slate of films beginning with “Asylum,” which David Ellis will direct, Amritraj said. Horror-thriller, written by Ethan Lawrence, starts principal photography in September and will be Ellis’ next film after “Snakes on a Plane.”

Most of the films under the deal will be budgeted at $20 million-$25 million, Amritraj said.

Manmohan Shetty, chairman and managing director of Adlabs, said the company will focus exclusively on Hyde Park for now, investing via its subsidiary Adlabs USA. Company received an infusion of funds when Anil Ambani, co-owner of Reliance, bought out Shetty’s partners last year, paying $7.9 million for a 50% stake.

“While Hollywood majors have gone to Bollywood, this is the flip side,” Amritraj said. “It makes me feel good that I can bridge that gap between India and Hollywood.”

Amritraj said he had been approached by Indian congloms in the past, but he picked Adlabs.

“Manmohan is an old friend,” he said. “It is important to me to have major corporate partners who understand what they’re getting into.”

Shetty said, “This tie-up will help us access new markets as well as big-ticket international stars. It will also help us to market and promote our films overseas.”

The two started discussions during India’s Frames-Ficci confab in March and finalized the deal during the IIFA Awards in Dubai on June 16. Amritraj was there to receive a lifetime achievement award for his 25-year career in Hollywood.

Hyde Park has deals with Black Hat in the U.K. and a line of financing from a Texas bank.

Company has a five-year, first-look co-production financing and distribution deal with Fox, as well as a second-look co-production financing deal with Disney. It’s in post-production on Sandra Bullock starrer “Premonition,” which Sony will release next year. “Death Sentence,” starring Kevin Bacon, also will start shooting in September, with Fox to release that pic.

Adlabs has co-produced Hyperion Pictures’ “Marigold: An Adventure in India,” starring Ali Larter and Salman Khan and set for an August release.

(Shilpa Bharatan Iyer in Mumbai contributed to this report.)

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