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Graphic India to Expand Blockbuster ‘Baahubali’ to Comics, Animation, Novels

India’s Arka Mediaworks has teamed with character entertainment company Graphic India to expand its blockbuster “Baahubali: The Beginning” across formats including comic books, novels, animation and gaming.

2015 release “Baahubali: The Beginning”, directed by S.S. Rajamouli, and produced by Arka’s Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, grossed more than $88 million worldwide. A shorter international version cut by Vincent Tabaillon, (“Now You See Me”, “Taken 2”) is set to roll out across 30 international territories.

The transmedia expansion of “Baahubali” will begin with graphic novels. The first two are already in production, Graphic India co-founder Sharad Devarajan revealed. Also in the works is a larger, animated project, currently titled “Baahubali: The Lost Legends”.

“The market is dominated by Western and Japanese animation. We want to see if Indian animation can work across the world,” Devarajan told Variety. With the franchise’s gaming component Arka and Graphic India are also targeting India’s 900 million mobile users.

“’Baahubali’ is a big world, out of which the films are just a small part,” Rajamouli told Variety. “There are many more stories to be told. There are many areas in the film that were skimmed over that will now be explored. I’ll be overseeing everything.”

Rajamouli also revealed that filming of the sequel “Baahubali: The Conclusion” is under way and likely to conclude in August or September, ahead of a probable release in late 2016 or early 2017. The two films together have a production cost of $50 million.

Separately, Arka’s previously announced deal with tech giant AMD has lead to work getting under way on “a cutting edge virtual reality film with live action elements,” Yarlagadda said.   Graphic India is owned by U.S. comic book company, Liquid Comics, CA Media, the Asian investment arm of The Chernin Group, LLC, and NYC Media Group, Start Media.

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