Twentieth Century Fox and regional broadcaster Star, both of which are owned by News Corp, arelaunching an Asia-wide joint venture, Fox Star Studios, to produce and distribute local-language movies.

Star CEO Paul Aiello revealed the move, which has been an open secret for several months, at the Asia Media Summit in Hong Kong yesterday. It was later confirmed byFox.Starting in India, the joint venture will also produce movies in China and other Asian territories within the Star footprint.

'The formation of Fox Star Studios marks a new milestone for Star's expansion in the business of filmed entertainment beyond TV broadcasting and underscores our growing confidence in the marketplace, as well as our long-term commitment to the film industry in Asia,' said Aiello.

Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Jim Gianopoulos said: 'The Fox Star joint venture is a great opportunity for us to create a strong presence in the Asian film industry and to extend the relationship across the region.'

Star India president Vijay Singhhas been appointed as CEO ofFox Star Studios in India, while former Turner Entertainment Networks executive director, Vivek Krishnani, has been appointed as head of distribution, marketing and syndication.

The company's Indian operations will produceHindi and regional-language films, and will alsoestablish theatrical, home entertainment and digital media platforms in India.

Fox has also returned to distributing its own movies in India after a hiatus of almost four years during which its films were distributed through Warner Bros. It has already released What Happens In Vegas in India on Sep 5.

Fox Star Studios has also picked up its first Indian production, acquiring domestic theatrical and satellite rights to comedy Quick Gun Murugan, an English and Tamil-language film directed by Shashank Ghosh and produced by Phat Phish. The film is likely to bereleased in India by the end of the year in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu-language versions.

Fox announced the launch of its local-language production division, Fox International Productions, at Cannes this year, and said it is also targeting Russia, Germany and Japan (which does not fall within the Star footprint). Fox's first Japanese projects include a local-language remake of Sideways and drama Gunjo (Ultramarine), directed by Yosuke Nakagawa and starring Masami Nagasawa.

The tie-up between Fox and Star means that most of the US studios now have strategic partners in the booming Indian market: Warner Bros has entered local production with several partners while Turner is partnered with Zee; Sony is working with UTV and Eros and co-owns Sony Entertainment Television (SET); Disney is co-producing with Yash Raj and has invested in UTV; Viacom has a joint venture with TV18 and NBC Universal has invested in NDTV.