In a candid conversation from the US, Columbia-Tristar vice-chairman Gareth Wigan said: 'We're very proud of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Saawariya'. It's earned a lot of money. We're delighted to have made this film.
'The profits haven't been outstanding. The film was made at around $8 million. We sold nearly $20 million worth of tickets. Plus the television, DVD rights and merchandise,' Wigan, who supervises non-American films on behalf of Sony Pictures, told IANS in an interview.
Wigan seemed unsure of how much 'Saawariya' was affected by adverse reviews.
'I'm not sure how much Indian audiences pay attention to critics. I think it's very easy when a film performs less well than we hoped to look for a culprit. When a film doesn't do as well as expected the marketing and movie people blame each other.'
In the last 10 years, Columbia-Tristar and its sibling company Sony Pictures have made movies in 12 different countries.
'In some countries we've succeeded with our first film. In others we haven't. There're no textbook rules on how to make films. Films come out of a passion of the heart.'
The company is in negotiation with several major Indian filmmakers.
'We look forward to making more films with Sanjay Bhansali and other filmmakers in India. Two years ago we knew nothing about filmmaking in India. Today, we know more. We'll never stop learning.'
'I personally feel more experienced after 'Saawariya'. Many people in the popular media were looking at 'Saawariya'. If it had been a huge success, they'd have seen it as the success of Hollywood.
'Now having judged the box office performance of 'Saawariya' incorrectly they say, Hollywood failed. We did neither. We certainly didn't fail with 'Saawariya'. Nor was it a huge triumph. We'll continue making films in India as planned.'
As for the suspicion that a major foreign company elicits in the Indian business circle, Wigan is confident about finding a place for Sony Pictures.
'The film industry in India is highly successful. And we want to become part of it. I think we'll be accepted. Yes, there will be a slight rivalry with other production houses. That's healthy. We don't hope for or expect any enmity.'