The Walt Disney Company has clarified it intends to continue investing in India, but will focus on Hollywood distribution for now as far as the film business is concerned.
While it will finish all projects in the pipeline, no new projects will be sanctioned for production. The studio has Aamir Khan’s Jagga Jasoos releasing in April.
“Given the challenges in investing in the local film industry, we intend to shift the focus of our film strategy to driving our Hollywood movie slate in India. We remain optimistic about the potential of the Indian market and will continue to invest in growing the Disney brand in India,” a company spokesperson said in an emailed response.
The studio has a strong lineup of Hollywood films to focus on, including Cars 3 (June 2017).
Considering one of the biggest hits of the year is a Hollywood film, The Jungle Book with a net box office collection of Rs 185 crore, the studio hopes to cash in on the growing market for Hollywood content in India.
Sources in the film industry said Disney took the call after evaluating the studio’s slate’s performance, taxation, infrastructure and talent hiring practices. The added the company could revisit the Bollywood business in the future.
Disney’s Bollywood business was part of the UTV Software entity the company acquired from Ronnie Screwvala in 2012. It has since operated three studio entities, UTV Studios, UTV Spotboy and Disney. Films are produced depending on the script under one of these three brands. The Disney studio brand will be the only active film production brand in India for now.
Since 2014’s blockbuster Tamasha (2015) have failed to recover money at the box office.
The company shut its southern operations a couple of years ago when it released the market was not working as planned. Among Disney’s big misses is Mohenjo Daro starring Hrithik Roshan. Made at Rs 120 crore, the film has made Rs 56 crore in the two weeks since its release.