Disney India, UTV Join Up for Film Production

The venture will produce Disney-branded, local language films in India.

NEW DELHI -- The Walt Disney Company India and UTV Motion Pictures announced a creative alliance to co-produce a slate of Disney branded films “aimed at family audiences” according to a joint statement Friday. Disney and UTV will share creative responsibilities for these films while UTV will manage production, marketing and distribution. 

Details about potential projects and estimated budgets were not given.

UTVMP is owned by diversified media conglomerate UTV Software Communications in which The Walt Disney Company holds a strategic 32.1% equity stake acquired for about $230 million in 2008, considered the largest foreign investment in the Indian media and entertainment sector. The investment also gave Disney a 15% stake (valued at about $30 million) in UTV's broadcasting unit UTV Global Broadcasting Ltd. (UGBL) which runs kids channel Hungama TV and youth outlet Bindass TV, Bindass Movies and UTV World Movies.

“Together with UTV, our goal is to produce films that have a direct connection with the dynamic and expanding India audience and that embody Disney brand values - optimistic, fun, meaningful and emotional entertainment for the entire family,” Walt Disney Company India Private Ltd. MD Mahesh Samat. “From television to publishing to online gaming and studios, we are singly focused on developing stories, characters and experiences that reach into the heart of the community”. 

UTV Chairman Ronnie Screwvala said, “I believe this is a strategic initiative that further strengthens our relationship with Disney. It is a wonderful affirmation for UTV that a much loved global entertainment brand like Disney has the confidence in our creative and commercial capabilities and we welcome this co-production alliance. The combined offering of UTV and Disney content will offer Indian viewers a tremendously diverse range of movies across languages and genres.” 

Following its first India release via a co-production with veteran Bollywood banner Yash Raj Films for 2008's animation title Roadside Romeo, Disney produced its first Hindi live-action feature, comedy title Do Dooni Chaar (Two Times Two Is Four) followed by kids super hero caper Zokkomon while it forayed into the regional South Indian industry in January via Telegu fantasy adventure film Anaganaga-O-Dheerudu (Once Upon A Warrior).