Viacom 18, PPI Announce Deal to Distribute Paramount Movies in India

6:52 AM PST 05/18/2011 by Nyay Bhushan
Robert Zuckerman/Paramount Pictures

The new alliance will kick off with the release of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, on July 1.

MUMBAI -- Paramount Pictures International and Viacom18 Motion Pictures announced a distribution alliance Wednesday that will launch with the India-wide distribution of Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon on July 1.

While Paramount titles have been theatrically distributed here earlier via Paramount Pictures India Ltd. -- the local affiliate of UIP, the global distribution arrangement between Paramount and Universal active in 18 countries -- the new alliance will now see Viacom18 Motion Pictures as the exclusive distributor for Paramount titles in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The alliance was announced in the presence of Paramount Pictures International President Andrew Cripps, PPI Executive VP, International Distribution and Operations Roger Pollock, Network18 Media CEO Haresh Chawla and Viacom18 Motion Pictures COO Vikram Malhotra. The announcement was followed by a special 20-minute preview of Transformers, which will also release here in 3D in addition to trailers of other upcoming Paramount titles.

“One of the reasons we are doing this alliance is because we believe that India is poised to be one of the next great growth markets for foreign films. In addition to increasing purchasing power, entertainment infrastructure is also growing which are factors which increase people's propensity to become consumers for Hollywood films," Cripps said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

India is still one of the few markets in the world where Hollywood titles only command a miniscule market share, estimated at about 10%.

According to a recent report by the Motion Picture Association's India office, the total gross output of the U.S. and foreign film industry in India is estimated at $180 million. The MPA report estimated overall Indian domestic box office collections at $1.8 billion, which are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10% by 2013 to touch $2.8 billion.

While other Hollywood studios here have also ventured into domestic production such as Fox Star Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney India and Warner Bros India, Paramount is currently focusing on theatrical distribution of its titles. As for potential co-productions here, Cripps said, “We do co-productions in other countries but for now, this agreement with Viacom18 is for India distribution of our titles.”

Viacom18 Motion Pictures is part of Viacom18 Media, the equal joint venture between Viacom Inc. and diversified broadcasting group Network18, which runs a variety of entertainment outlets here such as MTV, Vh1, Nick India, Hindi channel Colors alongwith news channel CNN IBN. 

With Viacom18 Motion Pictures also rolling out a variety of titles of its own this year including the upcoming Players, an authorized Bollywood remake of The Italian Job, and edgy titles such as Shaitan (Devil), the alliance could offer opportunities for Paramount to internationally pick up a Viacom18 title.

“Bollywood films are gaining popularity in various international territories and the market is only growing. Viacom18 are making some very interesting movies and if there is potential in some of them we'd be happy to look at that opportunity,” said Cripps.

In addition to Transformers, Paramount's upcoming slate includes the highly anticipated Super 8, produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by J J Abrams and Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, directed by Brad Bird, which also stars veteran Bollywood star Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire).

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