NPR had a story this morning about Sony producing its first dometic Indian feature ... and having a little problem:
Sony became the first major Hollywood studio to produce a Hindi-language film. They chose a script called Saawariya, or "Beloved" — a romantic tale based on Feodor Dostoevski's short story "White Nights." Back in New York, Sony executives loved it ...
[But] Sony's first foray into the Indian market — the arty, literary, Bergman-esque Saawariya was hardly a match for [Om Shanti Om, a locally produced Indian film starring India's biggest star] at the box office. The Indian media went to town: newspaper headlines, special reports on TV, and adjectives like "debacle" and "disaster."
Okay, so Hollywood's first foray into the Asian sub-continent didn't go well. U.S. film producers still have other big plans, at least one with an animated feature:
Disney's Roadside Romeo, its first animated feature for the Indian market, is due in summer. There's already an early trailer, with the lead character — a dog named Romeo — trying out for a part in a movie.
Disney's strategy is different from Sony's. Animated features are new to India, and Disney — internationally known for its animation — partnered with one of India's best-known studios, Yash Raj Films.
"When we go to animation, that is an area that we don't have expertise in," says Yash Raj CEO Sanjeev Kohli. "We felt the need, and it would bring a lot of value to the product if we tied up with the world's leader in that area. And there is no better name than Disney at all."
Come next summer, we'll get to see how potent (or not) the Mouse House is. But it's interesting that L.A. Studios, even with their savvy know-how, can't wade into a large foreign market and hit a home-run ... or even a triple ... the first time at bat...