Friday, May 4, 2007

Sony pumps in Rs 2 billion+ on movie acquisitions

The World Cup is over and so too has ended the cricket monicker for Sony Entertainment Television's Max channel. The shift in identity to a pure movie channel has seen Max going all out to mop up big, medium and small movies over the last two months, with spends having reportedly crossed Rs 2 billion.

While the chances of Sony's being able to recover the high costs it has incurred for these purchases appear suspect, Set India CEO Kunal Dasgupta has set his sights on maximising revenues through leveraging digital platforms, particularly DTH.

Dasgupta, while refusing comment on the purchase price of the movies his network had acquired, says he views a video on demand service on DTH platforms like Tata Sky as one option that has huge potential going forward.

The biggest slate of titles Sony has acquired is a 16-film package it bought last month from Eros International for a reported Rs 650 million.

The new acquisitions include last year's blockbuster hit Lage Raho Munnabhai and big releases of 2007 like Salaam-E-Ishq, Namaste London, 'Provoked (Hindi) and Eklavya - The Royal Guard.

The Eros package also includes films releasing in the coming months like Partner, No Smoking, Cheeni Cum, Mahatma Versus Gandhi, Nanhe Jaisalmer, Buddha Mar Gaya, Chess - A Game Plan, Friends For Ever, Mr Black Mr White, Mr Hot Mr Kool and Aur Pappu Paas Ho Gaya.

Dasgupta is at pains though to stress that it is not just Eros that Sony has locked in as far as new titles are concerned. "Barring UTV, we have got all the big banners and directors in our movie mix," Dasgupta says.

Sony has acquired the latest titles from, among others, Yash Chopra's Yashraj Films, Karan Johar's Dharma Productions, Subhash Ghai's Mukta Arts and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Dasgupta points out.

The notable films on the list include Yashraj's Dhoom II and Fanaa, both blockbuster hits, Dharma's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and Vishal Bhardwaj's critically acclaimed Omkara.

The acquisitions Sony has made give the network exclusive global satellite broadcasting rights to the original version of these titles for a period of five years.

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