Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 18:59 UK

Reliance in major Hollywood deal

Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani - one of the most powerful men in India

Indian billionaire Anil Ambani's Reliance Big Entertainment group says it has signed deals with eight Hollywood production houses.

The production houses are associated with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Nicholas Cage.

Reliance plans to invest about $1bn (514m) in 10 films over the next few years to extend its global reach.

The deal is being seen as a major coup in Indian business circles.

Relative newcomer

The films are "part of [our] long-term strategy for media investments in Hollywood... to build a fully integrated movie company with substantial holdings in production, distribution and exhibition," a statement from Reliance Big Entertainment said.

The company is a relative newcomer to India's entertainment sector.

The BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Mumbai (Bombay) says that as India's middle-classes have become more affluent, their cinematic tastes have also changed, and Hollywood films have flourished in India in the last few years.

But Indian entertainment firms are also keen to spread their wings overseas.

Our correspondent says there is a sense in Bollywood that in order to really strike it big, its films and stars need to be accepted by Western audiences.

Many Bollywood stars try their luck in Hollywood every year, but so far no one has managed to break into the highly competitive market.

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