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Indian majors reveal 2008 mega-slates

Eros has 35 films; Pyramid to produce 52

HONG KONG — Two of India’s leading film companies Monday unveiled colossal production and distribution slates. Moves underline the race for scale and corporatization in the Indian movie biz.

Established Hindi-language major Eros International said that it has 35 movies lined up for 2008. Slate includes 15 Tamil titles, following Eros’ acquisition last year of regional language producer Ayngaran International.

Pyramid Saimira Production International Ltd, a 70% owned unit of exhibition chain Pyramid Saimira Theatre Ltd, announced that it will produce and release 52 films in 2008/09.

Pyramid said it will invest Rupees 5 billion ($125 million) in the slate. This will include ten Tamil movies costing $8.75-10 million.

The group’s distribution unit plans to distribute 200 films a year, of which 25% will be its own films. “To sustain growth in exhibition, you have to look at the content chain,” managing director, P.S. Saminathan said. By 2010, it plans to operate 2,000 screens in India with others abroad.

Highlights of Eros’ slate include two big budget movies that, unusually by Indian standards, will be heavy on special effects. It plans to release co-produced fantasy actioner “Drona” in August. Pic stars Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Jaya Bachchan and K.K. Menon. Later it will release “Aladin,” a Bollywood reworking of the Arabian Nights tale, and “Toonpur ka Superhero,” an animation pic starring real life performers Ajay Devgan and Kajol. For the Diwali weekend in the fall it is readying “Yuvraj,” a musical extravaganza helmed by Subhash Ghai and starring Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif.

Two other tentpoles are madcap comedy “Krazzy 4” helmed by Rakesh Roshan and Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar Raaj, a political underworld thriller starring Bollywood’s ‘royal family’ Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Eros’ Tamil slate includes pics helmed by directors inlcuding Prabhu Deva, Raju Sundaram, Jhananthan, Vishnu Vardhan and Selva Raghavan.

Pyramid provided less detail but named Kovai Thambi, Amudha Durairaj, Sangili Murugan, Ramanathan and Karumari Kandasamy and producers working on its slate. Company said it had already completed six movies this year and has seven in production.

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