Disney India aims to boost domestic animation market

New Delhi: Undeterred by the failure of their first outing “Roadside Romeo”, the Indian arm of leading animation studio Disney is set to continue making films here to tap the over Rs.17 billion (approx $360 million) Indian animation industry.

While their next offering is Darsheel Safary-starrer “Zokkomon”, they also plan to venture into regional content.

“Within the country there is a lot of resistance to going and watching an animation film even today because it’s seen as for kids. But as a company we are committed to grow that market. Nowhere else in the world you see animation doing lower numbers (like here),” Seshasaye Kanthamraju, director (marketing and distribution), Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, India, told IANS in an interview.

“In any developed country, animation makes as much as live-action films (unlike here). We continue to believe in animation and we will continue to make animated movies (here). It’s just a matter of saying ‘do we have the right story?’ and we are looking at different scripts,” he added.

“Zokkomon”, which has Darsheel in the lead as a child superhero, is releasing May 7.

According to a report by global tax and audit firm KPMG, the Indian animation industry has been growing rapidly with an estimated compounded average growth rate of 20.1 percent in 2006-08. It is estimated to reach a size of about Rs.39 billion (over $830 million) by 2013.

Disney ventured into India in December 2004. The studio signed a two-film deal with Yash Raj Films and their first joint venture was 2008 animation dud “Roadside Romeo”.

Asked about the next project with YRF, Kanthamraju said: “We had a two-film animation deal with Yash Raj Films and we are looking at a story for the next.”

The studio is also considering venturing into regional content.

“We want to make local films…for that we need to have much more relevant content and the content that provides us that kind of reach so that we continue to make films (here),” he said.

“Our management has already announced that we are looking at stories across the country (irrespective of regional languages) as and when an opportunity comes up,” he added.

So far as distribution is concerned, Disney India has its support in UTV Motion Pictures.

“Today all our movies in India are distributed by UTV. We have a business investment in that company and it makes a good synergy for us to work with them to distribute our film,” he said.

Apart from the theme park business, the other four Disney businesses are operational in the country. It includes Disney consumer products (Disney publishing, etc), the TV network which has three channels – Disney, Disney XD and Hungama – and the new media group, which creates mobile and Internet content. The fourth one is the studio.

“All these four businesses lead to what we call the ‘Disney Difference’ which is providing as many touch points to a single story as you are able to reach audiences whether on mobile, comics, television, etc,” said Kanthamraju.

“We are focusing on this (Indian) market with not just movies but through all our lines of businesses and local content plays an important role in that. With that as the preamble, we are looking at doing far more in the local market in terms of local content,” he added.

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