Lionsgate Films, one of the most prominent Hollywood studios, will soon start producing films in India, two people familiar with the development said.
The North American company—which has already set up an office in Mumbai—has a management team in place that will be announced in a few weeks, along with details of upcoming projects and strategies, the people mentioned above said on the condition of anonymity. Lionsgate Films is a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation that reported revenue of $3.2 billion in the year to 31 March 2017. Internationally, the studio is known for blockbusters such as dystopian science fiction adventure series The Hunger Games, romantic drama fantasy The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2 (2012), science fiction disaster film The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Oscar-winning romantic musical La La Land (2016) and science fiction action movie series The Divergent.
While its primary focus remains distribution, over time, Lionsgate has ventured into production too, backing projects such as romantic musical Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), romantic comedy The Prince and Me (2004) and British-Italian-South African historical drama Hotel Rwanda (2004).
Lionsgate’s India debut comes at a time when many Hollywood studios are either slowing down their Bollywood operations or completely shutting shop.
Last year, Walt Disney Co. India decided to pull the plug on its Hindi movie production business shortly after its big-budget release Mohenjo Daro fizzled out at the box office. Made at a cost of Rs115 crore, the historical epic only collected Rs58 crore in lifetime box office collections.
Disney’s last Hindi release Jagga Jasoos, that hit screens last month, also only managed Rs53.29 crore. Industry experts say studios such as Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Fox Star Studios are also being selective in green-lighting projects after burning their fingers with over-priced outings. But that is also precisely why it’s a good time for a new multinational giant with the requisite resources and muscle power to try and make inroads, experts say.
“Is it a good time to invest in Bollywood? Yes and no. Different people have different models. When companies shut down, it’s a reflection of their own strategy and what they want to do, or do not want to do. I don’t think it’s a reflection of the market,” said a studio executive familiar with the development on the condition of anonymity.