Palador Pictures is an early bird in the world cinema genre. It currently owns about 1100 titles and, after its fall-out with UTV in 2007, has been planning to launch a channel on its own. The company’s library of world cinema titles - Olive Collection - has titles from cinema masters like Akiro Kurosawa, Francois Truffaut, Wong Kar Wai, Ingmar Bergman amongst others. Gautam Shiknis, MD and founder, Palador Pictures, shared the company’s plans with Arcopol Chaudhuri.
You’re planning to launch your television channel by the end of this financial year?
We are targetting Q4, but we are in no hurry. We already have a library of 1100 films from around the world, and that number is growing. We have already released over 100 films on home video and will have 600 of them out by the end of next year.
Currently you don’t have any contemporary titles?
That’s a rumour being spread by competition. Over 50% of our catalogue consists of films released after 1980. We also have about 50 films that released after 2005, and about 20 of those are still under production. We’ve got their rights even before release.
Aren’t all 3 players - UTV World Movies, Palador, NDTV Lumiere — targetting the same pool of international movies?
I think all of us have already acquired our primary set of films and, while there may be some similarities in our content (in terms of genre overlap), a lot is also different. The overlaps are in terms of films from certain countries and the year of release. The difference is in the directors and nature of films.
There is no such thing as a first-mover advantage on the release side. It’s there in the content acquisition and cost efficiencies side, which Palador has.
Eventually do you see syndication of films happening?
It could happen if any of the channels are failing and they need to boost revenues to make up for deficiency in projections on subscription revenue or ad sales. Syndication of content will be poor strategy when one has their own distribution platform and brand.
Considering that the world cinema is a very niche, do you think it’s a big enough market for three players?
I am not aware of the business plans of the other players, so I cannot comment on whether they are positive or not. But I am sure that there is enough room for three players, if the return-on-investment (ROI) and cost sides are managed well. Eventually leadership in this genre will be defined by revenues from theatrical releases, home video sales, TV revenues (advertising and subscription).
What is the cost of movie rights?
It depends really on what territories, period, nature of rights, the subject of the film/director, whether it screened at the market and whether it won. It also has a lot to do with the relationship between the distributor and the respective sellers. On an average, the acquisition rights could vary between $50,000 to over $250,000.
What will be the funding requirement to acquire more films and launch the television channel?
We are not looking for any more funding. We are operating on profits since January, so it (funding) is not needed. We have sales happening through DVD, theatrical, festival and institutional levels. We keep our costs low and don’t splurge like monkeys where we should not.
7 months ago