UTV to handle Disney distribution

Deal to kick off with 'Bedtime Stories'

Disney, which took a majority stake in its Indian partner UTV Software Communications Motion Pictures over the weekend, is handing over exclusive distribution of its pics in India to UTV Motion Pictures as of Jan. 1.

UTVMP will provide sales and distribution while Disney will handle marketing on all Mouse House titles. Deal is expected to kick off with Adam Sandler starrer “Bedtime Stories.”

Disney is the first Hollywood studio to own a major Indian entertainment conglom. However, it will remain a junior partner in the running of UTV.

“This is one of the first synergies between ourselves and Disney we are looking to exploit,” said UTVMP chief exec Siddharth Kapur.

Hollywood movies rarely score more than 3%-5% market share overall in the Indian box office, but both companies regard the deal as expansionary. UTVMP will be able to offer exhibitors and regional distributors a wide-ranging slate combining Hindi-language Bollywood pics, regional-language Indian movies and Hollywood titles. For Disney, distribution through a local heavyweight means pics will see release across more of the nation, backed up by the promotional firepower of UTV’s television properties.

Companies say they will together pick and choose from Disney’s lineup for suitable movies. Pics will then be dubbed into relevant local languages according to target market. Kapur said it is possible that a Disney movie will be released in India in multiple dubbed versions.

Announcement was jointly made by UTV’s Kapur; Mahesh Samat, senior VP and managing director of Walt Disney India; and Anthony Marcoly, prexy of sales and distribution, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Intl.

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