I grew up with Tintin comics. The young Belgian reporter’s worldwide adventures fueled my childhood imagination, as I traveled vicariously with him and his friends from Amazonian rainforests to the arid Sahara, learning to appreciate, as I grew older, the economic and political history that often underpinned many of the stories.
So I was thrilled when I read last year that Steven Spielberg, who had bought film rights to Tintin back in 1983, was planning a Tintin trilogy with Peter Jackson. The first installment would hit the theaters in 2009.
And I was equally devastated to read last month that Universal decided to pull out of the project, citing its exorbitant cost ($130 million) and Spielberg’s astronomical fee ($80 million).
Add to that Tintin’s obscurity in the US market, the uneven track record of a 3D motion-capture film to make big bucks, and an economy battered by the thundering typhoons of a credit crunch. As Universal’s risk-averse decision began to make more sense, my heartbreaking distress began to grow.
And then… globalization comes to the rescue! Bollywood, to be precise. With a $500 equity injection, Reliance Entertainment takes a 50% stake in a restructured Dreamworks, ensuring that Tintin will see light of day, followed by dozens of other movies produced by the studio.
Reliance can market Tintin not just across India’s enormous movie market. It will attempt to do so across the rest of the old world, where the hero remains hugely popular. Just like Tata is hoping Jaguar and Land Rover to be its vehicles for a worldwide expansion, Reliance will probably piggyback on Tintin to newer markets beyond India and the US.
Globalization’s discontents aside, I can’t think of a better win-win situation for this case: Tintin saved, risks distributed, money made, millions of fans satisfied.