'Romeo' seals Disney-Yash Raj pact

Animation to be produced in India

By Patrick Frater
June 12, 2007

HONG KONG -- "Roadside Romeo" is set to be the first film to flow from a new animation alliance signed Tuesday between Disney and India's Yash Raj Films.

Agreement is to create a series of original and exclusive computer-animated feature films that they will co-produce. The two companies will be equal partners in the venture and will contribute creative, technical and financial support to the project.

"Romeo" will be produced by Aditya Chopra and written and directed by Jugal Hansraj. It will utilize state-of-the-art computer animation technology done entirely in India.

Deal sees likely production of one animated movie per year. Budgets are in the $4 million- $10 million range. Supervision of the animation slate is by Aditya Chopra.

Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, said pictures will be "exceptional animated films in the Indian language that are culturally relevant for the avid movie-going audiences in India and around the world."

"Romeo" is expected to be released in at least three languages: Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Hindi voicecast will feature the voices of Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor.

YRF has long been one of India's top live action producers and distributors. Tie-up with Disney allows it to venture further into animation, which is seen as a major growth sector for India.

Disney launched its own TV nets Disney Channel and Toon Disney in India and last year acquired kids channel Hungama, in return for a 15% stake in UTV Software Communications. Separately, UTV is also ramping up its own animation production line and last month unveiled a trio of features in which it is investing over $30 million (Variety, May 19, 2007).

'Romeo' seals Disney-Yash Raj pact