Reliance BIG Entertainment, owned by India 's massive Reliance ADA Group, is poised to become one of the most aggressive players in the global film business.
The upstart studio unveiled its debut slate of 69 pictures in nine languages at Cannes yesterday, along with plans to invest $1bn in its film business by the end of 2009.
The slate features top Indian stars, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan, and multi-picture deals with filmmakers such as Vinod Chopra and Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar's Excel Entertainment, among others.
Chopra will direct a mainstream English-language film Broken Horses for Reliance.
The string of announcements will be followed on Sunday by news of tie-ups with A-list Hollywood stars and US studios, including a home video output deal for India with Universal Pictures.
The $75bn ADA Group, headed by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, acquired Mumbai-based Adlabs Films in 2005 and has since been building a vertically-integrated studio under the Reliance BIG brand. It's already India 's largest exhibitor through the acquisition of Adlabs, and has recently expanded into the US, Malaysia, Mauritius and Nepal.
The company's $1bn investment will go towards production and further expansion of its film distribution infrastructure, including exhibition, home video and online platforms. In addition to that commitment the company is investing in DTH satellite services and IPTV.
Billionaire investor George Soros acquired a 3% stake in the company in February for $100m.
The 69-picture debut slate of Reliance BIG Entertainment includes in-house films and co-productions and features a mix of Bollywood mainstream and more arthouse oriented films from regional-language directors. Highlights include:
*two-picture deal with Vinod Chopra Films, including English-language Broken Horses, to be directed by Chopra, and love story Talisman, to be directed by Ram Madhvani and star Amitabh Bachchan. Chopra's credits include Parinda and Eklavya: The Royal Guard.
*six-film deal with Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar's Excel Entertainment, which produced mega-hit Don. The six pics include Don II starring Shah Rukh Khan, Luck By Chance with Hrithik Roshan, and Abhishek Kapoor's Rock On!!
*two-film deal with Shyam Benegal
*four-film deal with Madhur Bhandarkar
*three-film deal with Vivek Agnihotri
*two-film deal with Sudhir Mishra