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B4U and Relativity Media float JV for TV and films

MUMBAI: Bollywood television network B4U, controlled by steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, has set up a $100 million joint venture with Relativity Media LLC, the US film and television production company.

lakshmi_mittal_uk_richest_mThe JV, marking the entry of Relativity Media into the Indian market, will launch a pay television channel in India focused on Hollywood content in both English and Hindi. It will also create a digital streaming technology platform called RelaTV to deliver compelling short- and long-format content to Indian consumers.

Broadly, the JV will create and distribute local film, TV and digital productions in the growing Indian market. Relativity films will also be distributed and marketed in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, beginning with ‘The Best of Me’ in October.

B4U and Relativity aim to leverage their combined expertise, relationships and resources to create and distribute engaging long- and short-format entertainment and sports content in India. They will build a creative film studio and a unique technology platform.

ryan_kavanaugh_relativity_media“By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country, and its citizens are adopting new technology platforms from smartphones to smart TVs at a dramatic rate. We are especially excited to work with B4U and its impressive management team led by Ishan Saksena, and this joint venture positions us well to deliver enthralling content across rapidly emerging distribution channels,” said Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh.

B4U chief executive officer Ishan Saksena will manage the venture. He will be overseen by a board of directors, to which both companies will appoint two directors.

images (1)The two companies, however, did not disclose the shareholding structure of the JV. B4U Network, which runs two television channels B4U Movies and B4U Music, has Mittal, Kishore Lulla and Gokul Binani as shareholders.

The JV aims to capitalise on the significant growth potential of the Indian film and television markets, which are expected to reach revenues of Rs 193.3 billion ($3.5 billion) and Rs 848 billion ($15.3 billion) respectively by 2017.

ishansaksena001“Our joint venture provides a platform to bring the best of Relativity’s intellectual property, production skills and unique monetising strategies to India, while also providing Indian talent access to global audiences. Ryan’s vision and leadership, combined with the Relativity management team’s deep industry experience, makes them our ideal partners,” said Saksena.

Besides distributing future Relativity films and other select entertainment content in India and the surrounding regions, the newly formed JV will co-finance, co-produce and distribute Indian-language films and television shows as well as acquire projects in the US and Indian markets. It will also distribute third-party content in India and select Bollywood films in the US.

imagesAmong Relativity’s upcoming productions in India, their romantic drama ‘The Best of Me’, based on a novel by author Nicholas Sparks, and starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, will be the first film to be distributed by the joint venture in India and will be released on 17 October 2014.

The JV will also shoot simultaneously versions of films for the Bollywood and the US markets, in one production.

The new company will remake Relativity’s upcoming comedy tentatively titled ‘Untitled Armored Car Project’ and starring Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis in the US for the Indian market with a Bollywood director and starring Bollywood talent.

Directed by Jared Hess (‘Napoleon Dynamite’), the comedy revolves around David (Galifianakis), who is unfulfilled in his life and unhappy with his work, driving the armoured car bringing thousands of dollars to and from banks every day. But when he’s convinced to join in a far-fetched plan to rob a bank vault, David soon throws everything on the line for love, money and a life of excitement.

Relativity Media is a next-generation studio engaged in multiple aspects of entertainment, including film production; financing and distribution; television; sports management; music publishing; and digital media.

The studio has produced, distributed or structured financing for nearly 200 motion pictures, generating more than $17 billion in worldwide box-office revenue and earning 60 Oscar nominations.

Relativity Sports provides over 300 NBA, NFL and MLB athletes with services ranging from contract negotiation to custom film and television content production. Relativity Television is among the largest suppliers of unscripted television and has recently expanded to produce scripted series.