Aditya Birla Group's content creation arm, Applause Entertainment, which was revived in 2017 to produce original fiction content for digital platforms is now spreading its wings to create film, animation and gaming content. Speaking to BusinessToday.In, Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment, says that the company has already greenlit movies that would be going into production next year. "We are in the process of producing documentaries and an animation series. Apart from this, we are also looking at co-financing and co-production deals with Hollywood studios," says Nair.
The former head honcho of Star India (now Disney-Star) describes Applause Entertainment as a classical studio business which focuses on creating and marketing content. The studio has till date created 18 originals shows (Criminal Justice, Hostages, The Office and more recently Scam 1992, which is based on the life of Harshad Mehta) for OTT platforms such as Hotstar and Sony Liv. "We invest in content creation, we produce it and license it to platforms. The entire show is financed by us, the rights are with us," Nair explains.
Applause's biggest differentiator according to Nair is the ownership of the intellectual property rights (IP). In fact, lack of IP ownership has been the major reason why most film studios in India have lost the battle. After acquiring UTV for close to Rs 2,000 crore, The Walt Disney Company wrote off the investment, as the studio didn't own IP of bulk of the content it created. IPs of most films in India have multiple stakeholders which makes it difficult for the studios to monetise them in the long-term. Disney is also close to writing off Fox Star Studios in India which it inherited post its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. With no fresh slate of movies anywhere in sight, Fox Star Studio will be reduced to a company that would merely distribute Disney's Hollywood releases in India.
"Our proposition is we take risks, we invest in content creation, then we look to get some reward. By retaining IP, we will hopefully be able to build a franchise that can become invaluable in future," says Nair.
"We are not a conventional co-financing studio, neither are we a typical commission production house. Whatever we make, we have our fingerprints on top, we have been involved in every single detail of Scam or Criminal Justice. The only thing we don't do is physical line production," he further adds.