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Sued Over ‘Hotel Mumbai,’ Netflix Drops Plans for India Screening (EXCLUSIVE)

Netflix, Arclight Films International and four other companies are being sued by South Asian regional distributor Plus Holdings over rights to Anthony Maras film “Hotel Mumbai.” Netflix has now shelved its plans to screen the movie in India, where the movie is set, and other parts of South Asia.

Dubai-based Plus Holdings claims that it acquired the rights for India in a deal with the film’s financier Xeitgeist. It alleges that its deal was illegally cancelled, in order for the rights to be licensed instead to the streaming giant.

Plus has begun proceedings in the Bombay High Court to prevent the screening and to retrieve the rights. Also named as respondents are Singapore- and Australia-based film financier Xeitgeist Entertainment, 5th Dimension, Hotel Mumbai Private Limited, and Electric Pictures. An arbitration court in Singapore has already begun a hearing, but it has not yet come to a decision.

In November Netflix announced “Hotel Mumbai” as part of a slate of eight original productions being sourced from India. At the time, Netflix said that it planned to screen the film in the nine South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries that include India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Netflix declined to comment, saying that the matter is sub judice. A person close to Netflix confirmed to Variety that it is no longer going ahead. “It is not on the service. It has not been uploaded,” said the source. Xeitgeist did not reply to Variety‘s emails or phone calls.

Presenting a fly-on-the-wall perspective inside the Taj Hotel during the November 2008 terror attacks which left 160 people dead, “Hotel Mumbai” premiered at the Toronto festival in September last year. It was timed to release around the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

During its lengthy gestation period, the film became tangled up in The Weinstein Company bankruptcy proceedings. That episode was resolved when the producers managed to buy back the North American rights before they were transferred to Lantern Capital. In a deal brokered by Verve and Endeavor Content, announced shortly before the Toronto launch, the North American rights were subsequently licensed to Bleecker Street and ShivHans Pictures.

The film stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Anupam Kher and Jason Isaacs. It is currently set for a New York and Los Angeles platform release on March 22, with a nationwide outing from March 29.

CREDIT: Courtesy of High Court of Bombay

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