The battle for overseas rights and investment in Indian cinema is moving away from Hindi cinema. So far, Bollywood has never had a serious challenge on the overseas territories from any other cinema originating from India. A few niche territories like Mithun Chakraborty, who found a huge fan following in Russia, and Rajnikant in Japan were exceptions rather than the rule. Sivaji has changed all that. When the trade talks of Rs 100-crore turnover and more, the potential is serious. And overseas markets have been swift to cash in on this.
London-based Eros International has entered into a JV with Ayngaran International, another London-based overseas distributor. Both have been in distribution for over two decades and have a huge slate of libraries. Sivaji was the first project of this new JV as well as the first investment and foray into Tamil cinema for Eros. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We got the rights very cheap and we did this through a JV with Ayngaran International,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Jyoti Deshpande, COO, Eros International.
Following the phenomenal success of Sivaji, the JV will look into both distribution and production of Tamil films. An official announcement is expected to be made over the next couple of days.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“All future business regarding films will be an Ayngaran-Eros production, starting with Sivaji. With this new venture, Ayngaran could play a major role in the future of the Tamil film industry,Ã¢â‚¬Â Rohan Manickavasagar, CEO, Ayngaran International, told ET. AyngaranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s production plans include films with southern stars like Vijay and Ajith for their initial productions. Ayngaran has been around for over two decades and was one of the first companies to recognise the potential of Tamil film distribution in the international market, both in the theatrical and home entertainment segments.
Initially catering to the needs of the vast Sri Lankan Tamil population spread across Europe and Australia, through Malaysia and Singapore, it reportedly has almost 2,000 films in its library at present.
Though exhibition is not part of their plans right now, Ayngaran does own two theatres in Singapore and is affiliated with 20 theatres, which regularly screen Tamil movies, in France, Sri Lanka, Dubai and Canada. It also has retail outlets for home entertainment distribution in London and Paris, besides an online presence.
It releases most of the Tamil films overseas in theatres and is said to possess exclusive overseas theatrical rights for almost 300 films. With the increasing Tamil presence across the globe, Ayngaran now releases Tamil films across several countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Dubai, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, UK, USA and Canada.
In fact, Sivaji, whose overseas rights were acquired by Ayngaran for around $2.5 million, has become the first Tamil film to be released in over 200 theatres in the overseas market. Ã¢â‚¬Å“All those who screened the film overseas has covered the cost by the third week of the filmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s release,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Mr Manickavasagar.
These include 56 theatres in Malaysia, where it was distributed by Pyramid Saimira, four theatres in Singapore, eight in Australia, 10 theatres in the Middle East, 20 screens together in France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland, another 20 in the UK, and 75 theatres in the US.