Relativity's 'Oculus,' '3 Days to Kill' to Get Indian Remakes

Ryan Kavanaugh - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Ryan Kavanaugh - H 2015

In a speech at a conference in India, CEO Ryan Kavanaugh also says Hollywood studios are "stuck in the past," with 85 percent of their movies losing money.

Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh during a keynote address at the 16th Frames entertainment industry conference in Mumbai on Wednesday unveiled additions to the company's Indian film slate, announcing remakes of Oculus and 3 Days to Kill.

Kavanaugh gave an update on Relativity's joint venture with local partner B4U Networks that was announced at Cannes last year. As exclusively reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Relativity-B4U's slate includes a Bollywood remake of romantic drama The Best of Me. The film is part of a three picture deal with leading Bollywood banner Balaji Telefilms.

Kavanaugh said Wednesday that Relativity-B4U's India slate would also include remakes of three Relativity titles: Kevin Costner starrer 3 Days to Kill (the remake is currently casting), ghost thriller Oculus and upcoming heist comedy Mastermind, starring Zach Galifanikis, Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson, which bows Aug. 7.

Oculus – which was released last August - focused on a brother and sister who attempt to destroy the spirit-possessed mirror that killed their parents. The film's Bollywood version will be titled Zahhak, directed by Prawaal Raman, with actress Huma Qureshi and her brother Saqib Saleem taking the lead roles.

In his keynote, Kavanaugh also said he would like to shoot the sequel to Relativity's The Immortals in India. When asked by THR how far the project had developed, Kavanaugh said: "We are early on... the script is almost ready, and Henry Cavill (Superman) is the star. We would like to explore the idea of shooting an entire movie in India that can end up grossing $300 million-400 million worldwide. We are also thinking about casting one of the lead roles with an Indian actor. The two industries (India and the U.S.) can be unified to create something special."

However, Kavanaugh also pointed out that India needs to develop a robust tax incentive system as offered by other countries to attract more foreign productions. His speech was entitled "Make in India: A Revolutionary New Model for Hollywood and Bollywood." Frames is organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

This year's conference has the theme "Making India the Global Entertainment Superpower," which echoes the Indian government's recently launched Make In India program that aims to promote the country as a global manufacturing hub. Kavanaugh discussed how the U.S. and Indian film industries could work together.

"By focusing on the present and not the future…(Hollywood) studios are now stuck in the past," he said, explaining that a studio's entire year can depend on the success of a single blockbuster. Given India's obsession with cricket and the current cricket World Cup in Australia, Kavanaugh said: "To use a cricket analogy, either they (studios) hit the ball over the boundary or they’re caught out… there’s no in-between. And, today, this means that 85 percent of their films actually lose money."

Expanding on Relativity's strategy, Kavanaugh said the company created a new model for the future "where audiences are even more fractured… where the theatrical window is only a small part of the pie..." He added: "And having studied the Indian market closely for the past several years, I think it’s clear that we’re seeing this future take shape in India as well…with more diverse audiences looking for more personalized content."

Beyond drawing on Relativity content, the India joint venture has backed an as yet untitled original production with Bollywood banner Excel Entertainment co-founded by leading actor and film-maker Farhan Akhtar.

“It's a great story for mainstream Bollywood but the content is so strong that it will also open international markets (via sub-titled versions),” said B4U CEO Ishan Saksena.

Directed by Arjun Mukherjee, the recently wrapped film stars actresses Richa Chadda and Masumeh Makhija and actors Pulkit Samrat and Sharman Joshi. “We are going to bring it to Cannes for global marketing,” added Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, Relativity-B4U is also expanding its foreign film distribution business in India, which started last year with the release of The Best of Me. Other titles distributed here include Big Eyes and the upcoming The Transporter Refueled via Relativity's deal with Luc Besson's EuropaCorp. “We have a number of other studios now approaching us to distribute their movies in India,” Kavanaugh added.

With Relativity expanding beyond films into fashion representation with its M3/Relativity division launched in 2013, Kavanaugh was also asked if there were any similar plans for India. He said: "Absolutely. But one step at a time - we have four movies in the pipeline and TV shows we can't talk about, and original films. Given how dynamic fashion has become in India, we can look at how our partnership can extend to include fashion."