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Indian Blockbuster ‘Baahubali’ Secures China Release With E Stars (EXCLUSIVE)

China’s E Stars Films has acquired mainland China rights to “Baahubali: The Beginning,” the Telugu-language action picture which is the highest grossing movie of all time within India.

The deal was struck with Arka Mediaworks Intl., the new sales company established by the film’s Hyderabad-based producer Arka Mediaworks. Headed by former EuropaCorp executive Francois da Silva, the subsidiary company was set up specially to handle international licensing of the two-part movie.

E Stars, which previously handled Aamir Khan vehicle “PK” in China, expects to release “Baahubali” in November this year as a revenue sharing quota import. In the window before Chinese pictures take over the key month of December, E Stars is looking at a release pattern of some 5,000 screens, or 18% of available theaters. The company has been a select buyer of commercially oriented independent titles including “The November Man,” “Dredd” and Riddick.”

“’Baahubali’ has achieved so many things and acquired such a special position in Indian cinema that we are in the fortunate position of being able to negotiate with the top distributors in territories around the world,” said da Silva. “We are confident of wrapping up major deals in Latin America, Europe and other territories.”

AMWI has prepared an international cut that comes in some 20 minutes shorter than the version which dominated India and overseas diaspora territories in July. The edit was prepared by Vincent Tabaillon, the Los Angeles-based editor who has credits including “Now You See Me,” “Taken 2” and “The Incredible Hulk.”

Directed by SS Rajamouli on a budget of some $40 million for the two parts, “Baahubali: The Beginning” grossed $80 million in India and a further $10 million from the diaspora markets. That total makes it the third-biggest grossing Indian film behind “PK” and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan,” and the biggest film of all time from South India overseas.

The film is clearly rooted in Indian culture, but is a revenge fantasy that is not specific to any one era or Indian religion. The multi-generational story involves “a father who has been back-stabbed, a mother who has been enchained for no wrong of hers and a son who takes revenge,” says producer Shobu Yarlagadda.

“Baahubali: The Conclusion” will pick up the action from where the first ended and move the story to the next generation.

Rajamouli has already shot the drama and dialog and will shortly begin shooting the remaining action scenes. Delivery of the second part is set for late 2016.

While marshaling South Indian superstars Prabhas, Rana Daggubati and Anushka Shetty, the package has high quality action, digital effects and production design that enabled it to overcome many of the conventional limitations on Indian movies.

Within India “Baahubali” overcame linguistically defined barriers to become a nationwide hit. Delivered in South Indian languages Telugu and Tamil, it was dubbed into Hindi for release in areas traditionally dominated by Bollywood.

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