New Delhi: Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Entertainment today said its film production and distribution business will partner Phantom Films, a company formed by leading directors Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena. The two will form a 50:50 joint venture to create a powerful new force in Indian cinema, Reliance Entertainment said in a statement issued here.

“The proposed combination will leverage the proven creative and production capabilities of the Phantom team, while enjoying access to the established domestic and international sales and distribution infrastructure of Reliance Entertainment,” it said.

The Reliance Entertainment and Phantom Films joint venture plans to develop and produce at least 5 to 6 films every year, apart from distribution of films in India and overseas, and syndication of rights from the over 175 films strong library. Reliance will own 50 per cent shareholding of the combined business, while the balance 50 per cent will be equally held among the four promoters of Phantom Films. The day-to-day operations of the Joint Venture will be managed by Phantom Films.

Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, Group Managing Director, Reliance Group, said, “This partnership is in line with our evolving strategy in the media and entertainment business, of aligning with like-minded people who are trail-blazers in their own field, and playing the role of supportive investors on our part.”

Reliance’s network includes the wide reach of IM Global, a Reliance Entertainment company based in Los Angeles, with operations in North America, UK and Europe, Asia Pacific, China and Latin America. “Phantom Films will also be in a position to leverage the world-class and world-leading capabilities of the recently announced Reliance MediaWorks, Prime Focus combination in digital, visual and special effects, pre and post-production, physical studio, etc., with facilities in Mumbai, London, Los Angeles, Vancouver, etc., and including Double Negative, the UK-based digital and visual effects powerhouse, a two time Academy Awards winner for its work in Inception and Interstellar,” it added.

Reliance Entertainment has produced, distributed and released more than 170 films in multiple Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali. It includes highly successful commercial films like Singham, Singham Returns, Bodyguard, Don 2, 3 Idiots, Singh is King, Sarkar, Guru, Attarintiki Daaredi (Telugu) and Singham (Tamil). Reliance Entertainment also has to its credit critically acclaimed National Award winning films like Paa, Abohoman (Bengali), Jaatishwar (Bengali), Shob Choritra Kalponik (Bengali), Kutty Shrank (Malayalam) and Ijjodu (Kannada).

Internationally, Reliance Entertainment has partnered for the past over 5 years with iconic film producer and director, Steven Spielberg, in a 50:50 joint venture, Dreamworks Studios, which has produced award-winning and highly successful films such as The Help, War Horse, Lincoln and The Hundred Foot Journey. Known for his high concept film content, Anurag Kashyap has directed films like Dev D, Gangs of Wasseypur, Black Friday, Ugly, and That Girl in Yellow Boots, all of which were screened at Cannes Director’s Fortnight.

Anurag’s last production, The Lunchbox, received wide critical acclaim and commercial success across the globe. Vikas Bahl has worked on films like No One Killed Jessica, Aamir, Welcome to Sajjanpur, etc in UTV Spotboy, before directing Chillar Party, which won the National Award in Best Children Film & Best Screenplay. In 2014, he directed “Queen”, a film which not only earned him numerous prestigious Best Director awards, but also enjoyed huge commercial success, and was arguably the film with the highest returns in 2014.

A long time assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Vikramaditya Motwane’s first film, Udaan, was selected to compete in the “Uncertain Regard” category at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and won seven Filmfare Awards. His last film Lootera, produced by Phantom Films, also received substantial critical acclaim. Madhu Mantena debuted as a film producer with Ghajini, starring Aamir Khan, India’s first Rs 100 crore box office film. He has also co-founded CAA Kwan, a talent management company, in partnership with leading talent agency, CAA of the US, and Offroad Films, an ad film production company, apart from Phantom Films.

“Phantom Films has an impressive slate of 6 films releasing over the next 12 months, including ‘Bombay Velvet’ starring Ranbir Kapoor, ‘NH 10’ with Anushka Sharma, ‘Shandar’ with Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, ‘Udta Punjab’ with Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, ‘Hunterr’ and ‘Ghoomketu’,” the statement said.

Madhu Mantena said, “It’s great to be appreciated by India’s leading entertainment company, and being given such a huge responsibility. We are overwhelmed with this Partnership, and hope to do justice to it.”

Vikas Bahl added, “This not only gives us partnership with people we look up to and want to learn from, it opens up our world of learning and access to people and infrastructure which was way beyond our imagination. We are confident we will make even better films thanks to this merger.”

Anurag Kashyap opined: “This deal opens up our windows to international opportunities and talent. We hope to optimise on this opportunity and take Indian cinema international, and also attract excellent talent into the country.”

Vikramaditya Motwane commented, “This partnership and the avenues it opens up to us give us the opportunity to take our movies to the next level in domestic as well as international cinema. We couldn’t be more excited with this partnership.”

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