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Disney boosts investment in Indian films


The Walt Disney Company is increasing its Indian film production. According to news reports, Disney plans to make 14 new films in India for the Indian market, and it’s branching out beyond Bollywood with its next release—a Telugu-language fantasy-adventure film, scheduled to hit theaters early next year.

Disney is one of several Hollywood studios trying to tap the enormous Indian movie market. About four billion movie tickets are sold annually in India, a country of 1.2 billion people. Since Hollywood films capture as small a market share in India as foreign films do in the U.S., American studios have tried beating Bollywood at its own game by opening production houses in India and making their own Hindi-language films with local directors and actors. Those efforts have largely failed, critically and commercially, including Disney’s animated Roadside Romeo (2008), Sony’s Saawariya (2007), and Warner Brothers’ Chandni Chowk to China (2009).

Disney’s foray into Telugu-language cinema—based in southern India and known as Tollywood—will be the first Hollywood undertaking of its kind. Tollywood is distinct from Bollywood, the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai. Unlike the U.S., India has a number of film industries that are regionally and linguistically specific.

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March 13, 2010