Indian entertainment giant UTV has signed a co-productiondeal with Will Smith and his production company Overbrook Entertainment andSony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) for two films to be created and distributedworldwide.
The $30 million agreement will include a live-action filmbudgeted at $10 million and a CG animated motion picture at $20 million. Thedeal with UTV emerged when Sony arranged a visit for Will Smith and his partnerin Overbrook James Lassiter to India in February 2006 to explore co-productionpossibilities.
UTV has also entered into a co-production pact with FoxSearchlight on its forthcoming comedy I Think I Love My Wife starring comedian Chris Rock. UTV had previouslyworked with Searchlight on Mira Nair's The Namesake which has its world premiere at the upcoming TorontoInternational Film Festival; UTV co-financed that film with Japan'sEntertainment Farm and Searchlight.
Rock is also directing I Think I Love My Wife in which he plays a married man who dreams of beingwith other women. Gina Torres and Kerry Washington also star.
SPE has a first look on the two UTV/Overbrook productions;while UTV and Overbrook will co-produce the movies, Sony will distribute themworldwide, excluding India.
"India is one of the most remarkable places on Earth and itsmotion picture industry has always fascinated me," said Smith in a statement.
"We are particularly excited to have an animation project aspart of this agreement," said Lassiter, "since India is emerging as the nextbig destination for animation content and UTV is on the cutting-edge ofanimation development."
Overbrook's credits include Smith vehicles Hitch, I,Robot, Ali and the upcoming SPE picture ThePursuit Of Happyness.
UTV Chairman and CEO Ronnie Screwala told Screen Daily,"UTV is focused on collaborating with like-minded partners like Fox, Sonyand Smith to produce entertainment for global audiences. These projects are abig step in reaching key North American markets and expanding our presenceglobally. UTV has made the biggest commitment by any South Asian media major tointernational co-productions and we will continue to lead the way in thisregard."