Wednesday, June 18, 2008

(Self-)Reliance is a Blockbuster

So one thing that struck me this past trip to India was the explosion of Reliance Industries -- in 2005, when I was last in the country, the company didn't particularly cross my radar, but three years later, it was impossible to miss. Mobile phones, gas stations, grocery stores -- even Mumbai's IPL cricket team is under the Reliance brand (a fact Royal Challenger fans in the Bangalore stadium pointed out in their signs as Sachin Tendulkar and his buddies womped their team). What, I wondered, was left for Reliance -- or, more specifically, its head tycoon, Mukesh Ambani* -- to take over? The answer, friends: Hollywood. And by Hollywood, I mean Steven Spielberg. From Defamer:
Reliance is apparently taking over Hollywood one A-list player at a time. Its film funding arm, Reliance Big Entertainment, made headlines at Cannes last month when it announced development deals with the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and others, splitting with studios the costs of new productions costing up to $1 billion. Reliance's latest venture is decidedly more ambitious, expanding its vast media footprint to claim what will be roughly half of the new DreamWorks: Six or so films a year through a studio to be determined (probably Spielberg's old stomping grounds at Universal, where he still keeps an office).
Under this new venture, the The Wall Street Journal reports, Reliance would provide Spielberg and DreamWorks with $500-$600 million in equity to finance their departure from Viacom's Paramount Pictures. Is your head spinning yet?

*Correction: Hollywood dominance is the plan of Anil Ambani, not Mukesh. From the New York Times:
The parent company, with assets of $29 billion, is controlled by Anil Ambani, the younger brother of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. The elder Ambani runs a conglomerate involved in old-line businesses like oil refining and agriculture. As Mukesh’s company, called Reliance Industries, expands in India, his younger brother Anil has increasingly eyed foreign growth.


Rooney said...

To clarify-- there are actually two Reliances, each run by a different brother (who, apparently, are not speaking to each other). Anil has dreams of expansion into the movie industry, while the chart on your blog refers to brother Mukesh's holdings. I think.

Bonhomie Page said...

You're right. I knew there were two branches but I thought this venture was Mukesh's again ... correction appended. Good catch Rooney!