In a major new development for Arab cinema, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Majid Al Futtaim and MBC Studios announced a major partnership for film and TV projects across the Middle East. The partnership will greenlight several projects annually, significant boost to the region’s growing film, TV and entertainment industry.
The alliance between the three organisations – among the region’s most significant entities in the content and entertainment sectors – will see projects being supported from inception to distribution.
Actively seeking projects from across the Middle East, with a focus on Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt, the partnership 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, an Academy Award-winning media and entertainment company.
“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.
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 utilise Saudi talent in front of and behind the camera.