Sony Pictures Entertainment and global Bollywood producer-distributor Eros International plan to co-invest in a slate of Hindi films, to be released in India and around the world.

Under the terms of the non-exclusive agreement, Sony and Eros will jointly develop, produce and acquire multiple films for the new slate.

Sony is expected to distribute some of the titles in the US, while Eros will use its global network for Bollywood product to distribute the films in other international territories. The two companies will work jointly in India.

The deal follows Sony's establishment in April of a local-language production division - the International Motion Picture Production group - under Gareth Wigan and Deborah Schindler.

However, the studio has already stepped into Hindi-language production by fully financing Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya, which is scheduled for release in November. SPE Films India, Bhansali's SLB Films and Sony BMG kicked off the marketing campaign for the film in Mumbai last weekend by launching the music, written by Monty Sharma, to select guests and media.

Sony and Eros are already collaborating via UK-based BEN-SET Limited, a joint venture between Indian channels Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and the B4U Network.

Sony owns a majority stake in SET and Eros has an option to own 24% of B4U Network. SET and B4U jointly market and sell their TV channels to UK satellite subscribers through the joint venture. SET also licenses films from Eros.

Commenting on the deal, Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Michael Lynton said: 'This deal continues Sony Pictures' dedication to the region as we embrace and support local talent and invest in films made specifically for audiences in India and the Indian diaspora.

'As a global company, we are committed to international cinema in India and around the world - we want to satisfy the demand in local markets for high-quality original stories told in their original languages.'

Eros chairman Kishore Lulla said: 'I am delighted to establish this important relationship between Eros and Sony Pictures I am excited by the potential benefits to both parties from working together and pleased that Sony chose Eros as its Indian partner.'