PVR clubs Hollywood and Bollywood film distribution, announces slate for 2019

Last August, PVR bought a 71.7% stake in SPI Cinemas Pvt. Ltd, for  ₹633 crore (Mint file)

New Delhi: PVR Pictures Ltd, motion picture arm of exhibition company PVR Ltd, is planning a massive expansion of its film distribution unit. The Ajay Bijli-owned company that so far primarily distributed Hollywood films in India is now looking at distributing Hindi and other Indian language films too.

Starting as early as this Friday with Hrithik Roshan-starrer Super 30, PVR has multiple releases every month which include Marathi films WhatsApp Love and Smile Please in July, Punjabi films Ashke 2 and Chal Mera Putt in August, and Bengali films Bela Shuru and Password in October, among others.

The Bollywood line-up comprises Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao-starrer Judgmental Hai Kya, romantic comedy Jabariya Jodi, space drama Mission Mangal, Sonam Kapoor and Dulquer Salmaan-starrer The Zoya Factor, ensemble comedy Housefull 4 and Salman Khan’s Dabangg 3, besides others.

“We realized 90% of the box office in India comes from Hindi and other Indian language films. So, while the English films were doing well, to scale our distribution business up, we would need local content and we are lucky to have relationships in the industry that helped us with the same,” said Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, joint managing director PVR Ltd, adding that the company would invest Rs. 30-40 crore in the local film distribution ventures annually.

“With the acquisition of SPI Cinemas, which has a key presence in the states of Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, PVR Pictures will be aggressively expanding its presence in the Tamil and Telugu industries. We expect to release a total of 15 plus Tamil and Telugu films in their home market, all within FY 2019-20,” said Kamal Gianchandani, CEO PVR Pictures.

In August, PVR bought a 71.7% stake in SPI Cinemas Pvt. Ltd for Rs633 crore.

As far as the Hollywood and world cinema line-up goes, there is action thriller Angel Has Fallen, Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo: Last Blood, Roland Emmerich’s Mid Way, along with Asif Kapadia’s British documentary Diego Maradona, Arabic drama Yomeddine, and Chinese film Ash is Purest White, among others.

“We are very careful about what we pick up from global film festivals like Cannes, Berlin and the American Film Market and we want it be an equal mix of commercially successful and critically acclaimed cinema. You just have to take a bet based on the director, script and actors,” Bijli said.

Though India’s appetite for Hollywood fare has so far been dominated by big-budget spectacles and superhero flicks, Bijli doesn’t perceive that as a deterrent for small-scale foreign language cinema.

“The big Marvel films probably come with publicity and advertising investments of $3-4 million for India and then make returns of $10-15 million. We, on the other hand, bring the non-mainstream films for $30,000-40,000 and are able to recover that easily. The world is a global village now and people in India know of these films that gather momentum and word-of-mouth at festivals,” Bijli said.