- The partnership will greenlight several projects annually
- Awarding projects from across the Middle East, with focus on Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt
- Partnership includes theatrical distribution by Majid Al Futtaim for all exhibitors across the GCC
- The first two projects Three Four Eternity is ready to be produced immediately and HWJN is under development
Wednesday May 15, 2019, Cannes: Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Majid Al Futtaim and MBC Studios have entered into a ground-breaking alliance to launch a major production partnership for film and TV projects across the Middle East. The partnership will greenlight several projects annually, representing a significant boost to the region’s growing film, TV and entertainment industry.
In collaboration with the three organizations, which are among the region’s most significant entities in the content and entertainment sectors, the partnership will support projects from inception to distribution.
The partnership actively seeks projects from across the Middle East, with a focus on Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt, and has already begun producing its first project. The first film supported by the partnership is Three Four Eternity, a vampire family drama produced by Mohamed Hefzy (Clash, Sheikh Jackson) under his company Film Clinic, which will be the directorial debut for the film’s writer, Rami Yasin (The Worthy, Zinzana). HWJN which is currently in development, is the feature film adaptation of the bestselling Saudi Arabian novel from author Ibrahim Abbas about a devout God-fearing Jinn who forges a special bond with a talented female medical student.
“This region has infinitely talented writers and filmmakers wanting to tell their stories, as well as a sophisticated consumer audience that craves locally made content that resonates with them,” says Ben Ross, Chief Content Officer at Image Nation, the Academy Award-winning media and entertainment company in the Middle East.
“This partnership will have a significant impact on the scale and ambition of the region’s industries, enabling more creatives to bring their ideas to life and deliver the content that audiences want to see. The trio of companies will facilitate the creative process at every step of a project’s development, and this is a major step towards our vision of creating dynamic content for the Middle East that will not only engage locally, but also play to the rest of the world.”
Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia is contributing to the partnership through its cinemas arm as both an exhibitor and distributor of films.
Majid Al Futtaim’s cinema arm, VOX Cinemas’ regional footprint features over 400 screens in eight countries including Saudi Arabia where the exhibitor opened the Kingdom’s first multiplex in April 2018. VOX Cinemas has opened a further four multiplexes in Riyadh and Jeddah, totalling 47 screens, and plans to open 110 by the end of 2019. VOX Cinemas will operate over 1000 screens across the GCC by 2023, including 600 screens in Saudi Arabia, offering a sizable platform for regional film makers and performers to showcase their talents, locally before content is distributed internationally.
Khaled El Chidiac, Acting CEO, Majid Al Futtaim - Ventures said: “Entertainment and creative industries are vital to a thriving and diversified economy and there has never been a more exciting time to be part of this field in the MENA region, and particularly, Saudi Arabia, in light of Vision 2030. With the region being home to some of the most talented minds in the industry, we look forward to working closely with them as they bring their work to life and receive well-deserved exposure on a regional and international stage.”
Peter Smith, Managing Director of MBC Studios said: “This is a strategic move by MBC Studios complemented by our partners in Majid Al Futtaim and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. We're bringing together, for the very first time, a 360-degree Arab film entity that covers all aspects of content creation, including development, production, theatrical exhibition, televising on the Middle East's leading broadcaster and SVOD platforms, as well as international sales.
"We want to create premium Arabic language feature film content from across the Middle East to connect with audiences in the region and internationally. This partnership, in essence, creates a fully integrated studio."
Image Nation and MBC Studios announced earlier this year a slate of Saudi films for local, regional and international audiences, which aim to film in Saudi and utilize Saudi talent in front of and behind the camera.
About Image Nation Abu Dhabi
Image Nation Abu Dhabi is an award-winning film and entertainment company which has built its reputation on breaking boundaries and unleashing imagination. It creates films, TV series, documentaries and entertainment for consumers throughout the world and is the first UAE company to have multiple productions stream globally on Netflix. Its success spans the globe - screening content at over 400 international film festivals and receiving the industry’s highest honors, including two Academy Awards, a BAFTA and an Emmy.
Image Nation has a strong track record of producing high-quality productions through a combination of local talent and international expertise. The company encourages original thought and curiosity while providing a platform for inspiration and practical training through its robust development program, Arab Film Studio.
Its mission is to help build the film and entertainment industry across the GCC and MENA - a pioneering ambition in line with Abu Dhabi’s vision to shape a competitive, sustainable and globally open economy. Image Nation enables all those who engage with it to become guardians of culture and ambassadors of change.
About MBC Group
MBC Group (Middle East Broadcasting Center) is the largest and leading media company in the Middle East & North Africa region that enriches people’s lives through information, interaction and entertainment. In 2002, nearly a decade after the launch of MBC1 in London, in 1991, and as the 1st. private free-to-air Arab satellite TV channel, MBC Group moved its headquarters to Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates, where it remains.
Today, MBC Group includes 18 leading TV channels: MBC1 (general family entertainment); MBC2 & MBC MAX (24-hour western movies); MBC3 (children’s edutainment with a mix of both local productions and western acquisitions); MBC4(entertainment for young families with a female-focus); MBC Action (an indigenous adrenaline-packed channel targeting young males with local and homegrown productions); MBC Variety (Western films and general entertainment with uninterrupted broadcasting); MBC Drama (24/7 Arabic drama) & MBC+ Drama (a joint pay-TV channel between MBC and OSN); MBC PERSIA (general family entertainment dubbed and subtitled in Farsi); Al Arabiya (24-hour Arabic language News channel); Al Hadath (an extension of Al Arabiya News Channel with a specific focus on developing stories in the Arab world and beyond); Wanasah (24-hour Arabic music channel); MBC MASR & MBC MASR2 (general family entertainment geared towards the Egyptian family); MBC BOLLYWOOD (delivering the freshest in Bollywood content geared towards the region via an Arabized interface); MBC USA (on “Dish Network” in the US); MBC Studios (producing the region’s most compelling premium content for cinema, television and on-demand platforms; and MBC IRAQ (a premium channel aimed at the entire Iraqi family).
MBC Group also includes two FM radio stations: MBC FM (Gulf music) and Panorama FM (contemporary Arabic hit music). Furthermore, The Group includes online platforms: www.mbc.net, www.alarabiya.net, www.shahid.net (the first free VOD and catch-up portal in the Arab world) and www.actionha.net, among others.