Popular studio to end its show with Brahmastra release?

Updated: 16 October, 2020 08:09 IST | Mohar Basu, Uma Ramasubramanian | Mumbai

With Brahmastra being the only movie on floors, Fox Star Studios holds off greenlighting future projects; hands pink slip to 18 employees amid shutdown rumours.

Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt headline Brahmastra
Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt headline Brahmastra

Last week, after Uday Shankar announced that he will step down as Star and Disney India chairman and Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific president in December, murmurs suggested that all was not well in the power corridors of Disney Star India. This comes barely seven months after Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios — the film studio subsidiary of the parent company — resigned in March.

Over the past four months, the media giant has cut down the studio's 25-member team to five. Sources say that while Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt-starrer Brahmastra is the only project currently on floors, the company has held off the greenlighting of new films for the immediate future.

An employee, who was handed the pink slip in August, says, "We had expected [the termination] because the studio stopped sanctioning films in India since the takeover. Brahmastra is our last project. Though they were in talks to back Karan Johar's Takht, the studio decided against it. We were paid our dues with a severance package of three months."

Housefull 4, Chhichhore were hits delivered by the studio last year
Housefull 4, Chhichhore were hits delivered by the studio last year

However, another employee, who was let go in September, says that the media giant wants to change business tactics instead of writing the vertical off. "The studio will continue to invest in Hindi series, regional language shows, and direct-to-net films. Over the past two months, close to 18 people have been let go from the unit due to overlapping duties."

Of its six releases last year, Fox Star Studios enjoyed box-office success with Housefull 4, Chhichhore and Mission Mangal while the poor run of Kalank, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and The Zoya Factor apparently put the balance sheet in the red. A Disney employee says, "This year, Chhapaak and Panga did average business, and the box-office run of Baaghi 3 was cut short by the pandemic. The studio was not faring well. The change of plans is necessary, but their commitment to backing films continues. The only unit making money is Disney+Hotstar due to its sports content. We are hoping the platform's subscription base will increase post the release of Bhuj and Laxmmi Bomb." It may be noted that the Star India network, which had 2,400 employees, saw close to 500 people being laid off since Walt Disney's takeover in June 2018.

Mission Mangal was one of the hits delivered by the studio last year
Mission Mangal was one of the hits delivered by the studio last year

mid-day reached out to Disney India, which did not respond till press time.

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First Published: 16 October, 2020 07:04 IST

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