Mumbai: Multiplex owners have started talks to acquire a film to screen in cinemas across the country, in an attempt to fill a void in new releases left by the ongoing stand-off with production houses over revenue-sharing terms.
In a clear signal that the gloves are off in the dispute with producers, Fame India Ltd has joined forces with its fellow leading national cinema chains INOX Leisure Ltd, Cinemax India Ltd, Adlabs Films Ltd, Fun Cinemas and PVR Ltd and set aside around Rs40 crore to acquire a film on the open market for release in multiplexes, where the deadlock has seen all new releases being put on ice since 4 April.
Sources close to the developments suggest that Shortkut–The Con is On, directed by Neeraj Vora, as well as Subhash Ghai’s Paying Guest, and Lamhaa, directed by Rahul Dholakia and starring Bipasha Basu and Sanjay Dutt, are among the films available in the market that could be considered fair game for the multiplex owners.
“We are in talks to come together and buy a movie,” confirmed Shravan Shroff, managing director of Fame India, which has been involved in negotiations to resolve the revenue-sharing dispute. “The six national chains will pool money in together to buy films. Tough times require people to think outside the box, and there are some producers in the market who are undoubtedly seeking a buyer.”
Shroff confirmed that the chains were putting aside in the region of Rs40 crore towards the first acquisition, but said that the figure could change depending on the project. He added that the chains had appointed a broker to find a suitable film.
Other films, deemed by a source close to the developments, to be of potential interest to the multiplex owners are Ketan Mehta’s Rang Rasiya, as well as Rakesh Sarang’s Horn ‘OK’ Pleassss, starring Nana Patekar and The Forest, directed by Ashvin Kumar.
News of the strategy by multiplexes to secure an independent pipeline of films comes just days after talks between the warring parties fell apart at the 11th hour over a disagreement on how to divide up box-office takings. Production houses, including UTV, Eros International and Yash Raj Films are looking for a 50:50, 45:65 and 40:60 split for the first, second and third weeks of release, with the larger share going to the multiplexes.
However, the chains are standing firm by their claim on a breakdown to the proportions of 50:50, 40:60 and 30:70.
Following the collapse of the talks and the spectre of the dispute dragging on through the summer, production houses announced earlier this week that they would be seeking alternative avenues to release their films. UTV Motion Pictures, Eros International, Reliance BIG Entertainment and Yash Raj Films are all exploring a strategy to release selected films on a staggered schedule in the next two weeks in single screen cinemas as well as in independent multiplexes, with further details due in the next few days.
The deadlock, which analysts predict will cost the multiplexes about Rs300 crore in lost revenues, has also seen the release of up to 40 Hindi language films suspended, including Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey, starring Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapoor, as well as Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kambakkht Ishq, with Kareena Kapoor and Akshay Kumar, as well as Piyush Jha’s Sikandar and Kal Kisne Dekha, starring Juhi Chawla and Rishi Kapoor, and Kabir Khan’s New York, starring Katrina Kaif, John Abraham and Irrfan Khan.
The dispute has also thrown into doubt the release dates of a number of Hollywood films, including Angels & Demons, based on the book by Dan Brown, as well as X-Men Origins: Wolverine.