Lionsgate Looking to Expand Local Remakes

Lionsgate is looking to expand its involvement in local-language film-making following the weekend success of “Brothers” – a Hindi-language remake of its flopped 2011 title “Warrior.”

Starring Akshay Kumar, Siddharth Malhotra and Jackie Shroff, “Brothers” opened in India with $11.2 million, making it top of the box office and for the second biggest opening weekend in the country this year. Its global reach was $12.7m from 3,690 screens in eight markets, according to data from Fox, corroborated by Rentrak.

That’s almost as much as the $14 million achieved in North America by the original property, Gavin O’Connor’s 2011 contact sports drama, which starred Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton.

The picture tells the story of two estranged brothers and their struggling relationship with each other, and their father, set in the intense, action-packed world of mixed martial arts competition.

“[‘Warrior’] didn’t do well, but we believed that the IP was sound, so we sought to play it elsewhere,” said a source close to the Lionsgate’s production operation. Kudos for pushing it through belongs to the London-based head of international sales Wendy Reeds, Jim Parker and Patick Wachsberger.

The Karan Malhotra-directed “Brothers” was the first real co-production for Lionsgate in India – the company had previously been involved with 2010 cartoon feature “Alpha and Omega” made under contract by India’s Crest Animation.

Initially “Brothers” was set up as a joint venture with Endemol India, a 51:49 joint venture between Endemol BV and the Chernin Group’s CA Media, to be produced under the banner Eyedentity Motion Pictures, Endemol India’s film arm. Later that expanded to include Dharma Productions, the production and distribution company controlled by Karan Johar, one of India’s most intelligent filmmakers as well as a consistently successful director, and a highly visible TV host. (Johar was also one of the producers of Cannes breakout hit “The Lunchbox” and was Hindi distributor of last month’s South Indian smash hit “Baahubali.”)

That partnership again expanded to include Fox International Productions, which brought in Fox Star Studios as distributor in India and gave the movie the kind of multi-territory, day-and-date release that Lionsgate might not have achieved through pre-sales and its networks of output deals.

“Usually we see remakes going the other way, from local-language to Hollywood, so it is nice to see something getting a second coming in other markets. Lionsgate has a big library and lots of content; we’re looking to do many more of these,” said the source.

Lionsgate’s recent partnership in China with Hunan TV, which includes Hunan TV’s film production and distribution units, TIK Films and Leomus, respectively, appears tailor-made for further remake productions.

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