One of India's top film producers is interested in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, James Bond's Hollywood studio. That may sound novel, but a purchase of MGM by Sahara India Pariwar would probably provoke only relief in Tinseltown -- because it wouldn't upset the industry's status quo. That would require a more radical approach -- something Google's YouTube unit just might be capable of, if it dares.
There's no deal yet between Sahara India Pariwar and the struggling MGM. But India's biggest film production company, which also operates multiplex cinemas, understands the prevailing Hollywood business model. Films are released first in theaters and then eventually appear on DVD and Blu-ray, on pay television, and on the Internet. The basic idea is that customers pay extra to see movies sooner -- especially during the theatrical "window."
That model, though, could be ripe for a shake-up amid the rising popularity of Web-based video, led by YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and Apple's iTunes. YouTube aside, these emerging channels have collaborated with content producers and have little interest in roiling the industry. Hulu, for instance, is owned by a trio of television networks. Netflix and iTunes have struck deals with producers to distribute their content, after a delay, to paying customers.