Bollywood muscles in on Hollywood

CANNES, May 21, 2008 (AFP) – With India’s entertainment billionaires seemingly blessed with limitless pockets, Bollywood is flexing its movie muscle, taking on Hollywood in unexpected corners of the globe and buying up theatres worldwide. “Bollywood now has the muscle and (Indian) corporates have big money,” prominent Indian filmmaker Jagmohan Mundra told AFP.

Mundra said Bollywood companies began the bid to buy into Hollywood cinemas and distribution networks after Indian films failed to get a wide showing in the West.

The slew of major entertainment deals announced this week at Cannes, the world’s biggest film market, underlined Indian cinema expansionism.

Reliance BIG Entertainment, for example, the entertainment branch of India’s mighty Anil Dhirubhai Ambani (ADA) Group, unveiled plans to spend one billion US dollars by the end of 2009.

ADA plans to use the cash to produce a slate of films in nine languages while ensuring the movies make it onto cinema screens outside India as well as on home video, online digital platforms, and television through the Internet (IPTV).

The group has already acquired 250 screens in the United States and made theatre acquisitions in Malaysia, Nepal and elsewhere.

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