T-Series, Reliance Entertainment sign $135 mn deal for 10 films: Report

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As cinemas slowly reopen across the country, Bollywood is looking to cash in on the box-office recovery after the devastating COVID-19 blow. Record label and production house T-Series along with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment Ltd have signed a deal to jointly develop more than 10 feature films including action thrillers, biopics, dramas and comedies in the next 36 months. The silver-screen’s golden deal amounts to $135 million.

Heads of both the production houses said that some of these feature films are set to release as early as next year, as mentioned in a report in Bloomberg.

The deal is one of the largest financing efforts in recent Indian film-making but it comes at a time when most producers are abandoning theatres to release their films on over-the-top platforms such as Amazon and Netflix. Lockdowns and curbs on theatres have pushed people towards digital streaming in the country.

However, Bhushan Kumar, Chairman and Managing Director of T-Series said that big budgets can’t be regained without cinema halls. “We can’t make such big investments, such big films just keeping OTT in mind,” said Kumar, as mentioned in the news site.

Both the companies have delayed the release of a number of films that have been ready for the screen since last year.

Even with such lavish deals, things are not all easy. Maharashtra, for one, has not allowed movie halls to reopen. The state counts for roughly 30-50 per cent of a mainstream Hindi film’s earnings. Maharashtra, Kumar said, is a ‘huge market’ and key to box-office success.

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Bhushan Kumar said that he hopes cinemas would restart by early November, in time for Diwali. But it would depend on the progress of containing the virus as reports suggest that a third wave is likely.

Shibasish Sarkar, CEO of Reliance Entertainment has said that the vaccination campaign has picked up and all hopes are pinned on it. “Even if a third wave comes by September or October — we should be out of this in the next few months,” he said, as mentioned in the news site.