'Simpsons Movie' hits snag in India

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NEW DELHI -- Another mega overseas weekend for "The Simpsons Movie" got little help from India as a number of the nation's leading multiplex chains refused to screen the film after a breakdown in negotiations with its distributor, Mumbai-based Warner Bros. India, which also handles 20th Century Fox product here.

A failure to agree on the number of showings for the film is at the heart of the issue according to exhibitors. Warner Bros. India declined comment.

Thanks to a previous agreement with New Delhi-based multiplex chains PVR Cinemas, Wave Cinemas and Satyam Cinemas, "The Simpsons Movie" opened Aug. 3 on a handful of screens in the city. But Mumbai-based chains Fame, Inox, Adlabs, Fun Republic, Cinemax, Movietime and Citypride boycotted the film nationwide.

"Warners was demanding that we book at least five or six shows but that was impossible considering we had major Indian films opening as well such as 'Gandhi My Father' and 'Cash,' " Vishal Anand, marketing manager for 50-screen chain Fun Republic, said in an interview Monday. "We decided to boycott the film altogether."

"Simpsons" was expected to be released in India on about 40 prints and industry estimates reckon that the boycott could amount to lost opening weekend revenue of about $75,000 (3 million rupees).

Moreover, the "Simpsons" boycott also led to the multiplex chains pulling Warners' "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which was in its third week of a successful run.

But Anand confirmed that a deal was reached Monday following negotiations with 20th Century Fox Australia. "We are now opening the film from Tuesday with about three shows," he said.

The weekend snafu is being seen as an opportunity for Sony Pictures Releasing, which opened the animated film "Surf's Up" on Friday.
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