May 24, 2010

Fox Star CEO on MNIK and other films

Balance of content & commerce
Fox star CEO Vijay Singh on their India plans in the wake of the worldwide success of My Name Is Khan

What has your experience been with My Name is Khan?

It was a wonderful experience for us to be working with one of the biggest combinations of Bollywood names, Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan. We believed in the project. Importantly, we were very actively involved in all aspects of the project in addition to the release planning process and marketing and distribution. And it all paid off.

There is talk that by buying the film at such a huge price (Rs 100 crore), you have lost money on the project...

We had our economic strategy worked out and the film will make a profit. We had factored in the platform release. It’s a big hit in India and has become the No. 2 Bollywood film ever on a worldwide basis [after 3 Idiots], as also the No. 1 Bollywood film internationally. We had always planned a Phase 1 and Phase 2 with a view to expand beyond the traditional Indian film markets. The film has done extremely well in markets like the Middle East, UK, Indonesia where it has collected more than $1.7 million.

During April we released 50 prints in Poland and the film releases in France in May, Germany and Spain in June followed by Russia and Italy. We always had this in mind that we have to bring that extra revenue from optimising the potential of the non-conventional Bollywood market. And we are doing that. In the conventional markets the film is already a big hit, and, of course, there is a huge upside in TV revenues which will flow. So let’s talk about it when the release process finally concludes.

With Rohan Sippy’s Dum Maro Dum (Abhishek Bachchan) you are actually getting into hardcore Bollywood production. Why not just buy a ready film?

We strongly believe in-co productions. Acquisitions would be exceptions for us. We look upon our role as co-producers who share the vision of our partners and contribute to the production process... be it scripting, special effects, etc. Co-productions are something that we are excited about and we are actively involved in the process of Dum Maro Dum.

Can you spell out your strategy for India in terms of Bollywood?

Quality is our focus. Our strategy is to position ourselves as a ‘single stop shop’ for producers — financing, co-productions and monetising the revenues in India and internationally. We want to focus on four-five films a year and build relationships with the best in the industry. Our team brings a lot to the table in terms of value and producers are realising that, which we amply demonstarted with My Name is Khan. We are in talks with a lot of reputed filmmakers as of now and soon we would be clear about a few more partnerships as well.

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