Bollywood standoff comes to an end

Producers make peace with theater owners

More than two months after Bollywood film producers and distributors began withholding new releases from India’s plexes in a pay dispute, the two sides reached an agreement Thursday that will reopen the spigot.

UTV Motion Pictures topper Ronnie Screwvala said the arrangement will allow distribs and producers to decide release patterns and change the formula by which they share box office revenues.

The complicated deal calls for plex owners to share 50% of B.O. the first week, 42.5% the second and 37.5% the third week. If movies are a hit and run longer at the plex, distribs will get 2.5% more.

“The whole process was a give and take,” said Screwvala, who was in Los Angeles for vidgam confab E3.

The standoff started in early April because distribs wanted to change the 60-40 revenue-sharing deal that gave plexes a better deal.

For once, Bollywood’s diverse distribs and producers held together and refused to back down. Even Hollywood releases were held back except for Par’s “Fast and Furious.”

With Indian Premier League cricket and student exams during most of April and May, there weren’t too many films skedded for release. But now that school is out, Indians are clamoring for their Bollywood films.

Screwvala said the two sides had never sat down to discuss how to grow the industry together. One of the things they are planning is to seek more uniform federal taxes.

Currently, individual states tax theater tickets and that tax can be as high as 30% in states such as Maharastra, whose capital is Hindi cinema’s Mumbai.

The first few pics to open, starting June 12, are likely to be “Kal kisne dekha,” “Jasne” and “New York.” UTV will release Vishal Bharadwaj’s “Kaminey.”

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