Netflix just signed a deal with the biggest movie star in the world

Tom Cruise has nothing on this guy.
Tom Cruise has nothing on this guy.
Image: Reuters/Thomas Peter
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Netflix has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood—from film stars Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Kevin Spacey, and Emma Stone to comedians Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Dave Chapelle. The list goes on and on.

Now, in a bid to corner the streaming-video market in India, the Los Gatos, California-based company has inked a deal with the world’s biggest movie star, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, and his Red Chillies Entertainment production house.

The agreement grants Netflix global streaming rights to the films in Red Chillies’ library, as well as any new movies from the production house that are slated for theatrical release within the next three years. The first title to hit the platform will be Khan’s newly released romance Dear Zindagi. Others, including Happy New Year, Dilwale, and Om Shanti Om, will follow, Netflix said.

Khan, who is sometimes referred to as King Khan, is widely considered the biggest movie star in the world. While he’s not the top earner—that distinction, for 2016 at least, goes to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—Khan’s $33 million in earnings for the year ended June 2016, his vast collection of high-grossing films, and his international appeal make him the biggest actor alive, according to Forbes.

The Indian actor is still relatively unknown to Western audiences. (In August, he was detained by US airport immigration officials for the third time when entering the country—to the dismay of his many, many Indian fans, who called the incident an example of racial profiling.) But Netflix is betting Khan can help win over global audiences.

The deal comes as competition in the streaming-video space heats up in India, which could bring more than half a billion people—and potential subscribers—online by 2020. Amazon rolled out its rival Prime Video platform in the country earlier this week, at a lower price point than Netflix, which entered the market in January. (Netflix’s service costs between ₹500 ($7.37) to ₹800 per month in India. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Prime service, which come with free one- and two-day shipping and other perks, is being offered at a special introductory rate of ₹499 a year, and will normally cost ₹999.)

Both platforms have been courting Indian audiences by going after regional productions. Netflix has picked up local art-house projects, as well as a handful of Bollywood and regional language titles, as the Hollywood Reporter noted. And Amazon has landed deals with major Indian studios including Dharma Productions and Vishesh Films.