At last, India produces a Ronaldo

At last, India produces a Ronaldo
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First Published: Tue, May 22 2007. 11 55 PM IST
Updated: Tue, May 22 2007. 11 55 PM IST
Compact Disc India Ltd (CDI), a Chennai-based media production firm has signed an agreement with Motion Pixel Corp. (MPC), a Hollywood production house based in Los Angeles, to produce a 90-minute 3D animation film called GoaaaaaL! in what could be among the biggest deals of the kind involving an Indian company.
The film, which revolves around the life and sport of Brazilian football star Ronaldo is slated for a 2009 release (just before that year’s FIFA World Cup) and will cost $20.15 million (Rs82.62 crore). An additional $20 million has already been earmarked by the producers for marketing and distributing the movie.
The copyright, costs and profits will be split between the two firms, according to Suresh Kumar, chairman, CDI. The movie will be produced at CDI’s Chennai facility. 
“We are doing the animation production and post-production work for the film, which is where 80% of the entire budget is being directed,” added Kumar. The script, voice-overs, music and distribution will be handled by MPC, Kumar said, with Hollywood names, such as Catherine Zeta Jones, Ben Kingsley and Michael Doughlas, lending their voices.
Kumar added that the deal between the two companies was a sign that Indian animation had arrived on the global stage. Experts said several Indian animation firms have graduated from handling back-end production work for international studios, to actually co-producing movies.
“The concept of co-producing animated films is an expanding trend in India because one, the quality of work being produced by Indian companies is world-class and two, it is much more cost-effective to outsource work to India,” said a spokesperson for UTV Software Communications Ltd. UTV is currently working on three animation movies for the domestic market and is co-producing two more with international firms, one with PorchLight Productions and another, a $20 million movie, with Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment. Both international features are slated for a 2009 release.
Other production houses are looking at the domestic market for animation films too.
“The trend kicked off after the animation film Hanuman gave over 25% in returns,” said Preet Bedi, CEO, Percept Picture Co., which produced the movie. “We are expecting even better results for Hanuman Returns, which will be released in the first week of November,” he added.
The Indian animation industry was worth $354 million in 2006 and, according to a study by India’s software lobby National Association of Software and Services Companies or Nasscom, set to grow to around $869 million by 2010.
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First Published: Tue, May 22 2007. 11 55 PM IST