Saudi Arabia’s GCA Chief On Building An Industry, Avoiding China’s Pitfalls & Changing Perceptions – Cannes Studio

Amid the opening of Saudi Arabia’s movie theaters and a push to send an overall message that the Kingdom is open for business, representatives of the General Culture Authority and the Saudi Film Council had a huge first-time presence at the Cannes Film…

Amid the opening of Saudi Arabia's movie theaters and a push to send an overall message that the Kingdom is open for business, representatives of the General Culture Authority and the Saudi Film Council had a huge first-time presence at the Cannes Film Festival this year. GCA CEO Ahmad Al-Maziad came by Deadline's Cannes Studio to discuss how the Kingdom is developing guidelines for content, its ongoing discussions with Hollywood and lessons learned from China as well as…

IMAX Signs Multi-Theater Deal to Bring More Screens to Saudi Arabia

IMAX announced the signing of a multi-theatre deal with Vox Cinemas on Tuesday, as the premium screening format plans to expand into Saudi Arabia, now that the country has ended its decades-long cinema ban.

As part of the deal, at least four IMAX screens will be installed at Vox cineplexes in Riyadh and other cineplexes at shopping malls owned by Vox’s parent company, Majid Al Futtaim. Vox is planning to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and their first IMAX location has already opened at a four-screen multiplex in Riyadh Park Mall.

Also Read: Saudi Film Council Announces First Project: ‘Wadjda’ Director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s ‘The Perfect Candidate’

Prior to the lifting of the cinema ban back in December, IMAX operated the only public theater screen in Saudi Arabia: a dome theater at the Sultan Bin Abdul Science Center in Khobar that opened in 2005 and was built to screen science documentaries.

At CinemaCon last month, IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond told TheWrap that the company planned to use the public’s familiarity with IMAX from that location to quickly bring in audiences for event releases, as IMAX is already screening “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” on their Vox screen.

Also Read: Saudi Arabia’s First New Movie Theaters Welcome Women – But Only With Chaperones (For Now)

“Saudi Arabia presents an exciting and sizeable new growth opportunity for IMAX, and today’s agreement with our long-time partners at VOX Cinemas marks an important first step in our efforts to capitalize on this untapped market,” Gelfond said in a statement following the deal’s announcement. “We’ve been closely following the economic and cultural developments in the market and look forward to playing a key role in the growth of the Kingdom’s emerging entertainment sector.”

The deal comes three days after IMAX signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi government’s General Culture Authority at the Cannes Film Festival. The GCA and IMAX will work together to help Saudi studios and directors release films with cross-border appeal and eventually tap IMAX’s global distribution platform to export their films to non-Arabic markets.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Saudi Film Council Announces First Project: ‘Wadjda’ Director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s ‘The Perfect Candidate’

Saudi Arabia’s First New Movie Theaters Welcome Women – But Only With Chaperones (For Now)

About That Saudi Tsunami That Just Washed Through Hollywood

IMAX announced the signing of a multi-theatre deal with Vox Cinemas on Tuesday, as the premium screening format plans to expand into Saudi Arabia, now that the country has ended its decades-long cinema ban.

As part of the deal, at least four IMAX screens will be installed at Vox cineplexes in Riyadh and other cineplexes at shopping malls owned by Vox’s parent company, Majid Al Futtaim. Vox is planning to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and their first IMAX location has already opened at a four-screen multiplex in Riyadh Park Mall.

Prior to the lifting of the cinema ban back in December, IMAX operated the only public theater screen in Saudi Arabia: a dome theater at the Sultan Bin Abdul Science Center in Khobar that opened in 2005 and was built to screen science documentaries.

At CinemaCon last month, IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond told TheWrap that the company planned to use the public’s familiarity with IMAX from that location to quickly bring in audiences for event releases, as IMAX is already screening “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” on their Vox screen.

“Saudi Arabia presents an exciting and sizeable new growth opportunity for IMAX, and today’s agreement with our long-time partners at VOX Cinemas marks an important first step in our efforts to capitalize on this untapped market,” Gelfond said in a statement following the deal’s announcement. “We’ve been closely following the economic and cultural developments in the market and look forward to playing a key role in the growth of the Kingdom’s emerging entertainment sector.”

The deal comes three days after IMAX signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi government’s General Culture Authority at the Cannes Film Festival. The GCA and IMAX will work together to help Saudi studios and directors release films with cross-border appeal and eventually tap IMAX’s global distribution platform to export their films to non-Arabic markets.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Saudi Film Council Announces First Project: 'Wadjda' Director Haifaa Al-Mansour's 'The Perfect Candidate'

Saudi Arabia's First New Movie Theaters Welcome Women – But Only With Chaperones (For Now)

About That Saudi Tsunami That Just Washed Through Hollywood

First Slate of Saudi Films in Production From MBC Group and Image Nation

Top Middle East free-to-air broadcaster MBC Group’s production arm O3 Productions and Image Nation Abu Dhabi have announced a partnership to co-finance and co-produce a slate of films from Saudi Arabia that will target local, regional and global audien…

Top Middle East free-to-air broadcaster MBC Group’s production arm O3 Productions and Image Nation Abu Dhabi have announced a partnership to co-finance and co-produce a slate of films from Saudi Arabia that will target local, regional and global audiences. Most details of the four new features are being kept under wraps, but genres are “likely […]

IMAX and Saudi Arabia Partner to Develop Local Films

IMAX and Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority have signed a non-binding agreement to jointly seek opportunities to identify and develop local IMAX-format films in the kingdom. Under the non-exclusive pact, unveiled Saturday, the partners will seek …

IMAX and Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority have signed a non-binding agreement to jointly seek opportunities to identify and develop local IMAX-format films in the kingdom. Under the non-exclusive pact, unveiled Saturday, the partners will seek opportunities to help Saudi studios and directors release films with cross-border appeal and potentially tap into the IMAX global […]

Saudi Arabia Sets Cash Rebate Programs To Attract International Productions – Cannes

Splashing down at the Cannes Film Festival this week, Saudi Arabia continues its rapid push to expand the local entertainment industry and send the overall message that the Kingdom is open for business. CEO of the General Culture Authority Ahmad Al-Maz…

Splashing down at the Cannes Film Festival this week, Saudi Arabia continues its rapid push to expand the local entertainment industry and send the overall message that the Kingdom is open for business. CEO of the General Culture Authority Ahmad Al-Maziad announced this morning a new 35% cash rebate to incentivize international film production in the Kingdom as well as a 50% rebate available for spend on Saudi labor. The first rebate will apply to productions that will be…

Saudi Arabia Reps Tout Production Incentives, Get Grilled on Women’s Rights

Saudi Arabia will offer generous tax incentives as it looks to lure Hollywood studios to the desert kingdom and bolster its own local film and television industry. The country will give productions a 35% location rebate on films that shoot in Saudi Ara…

Saudi Arabia will offer generous tax incentives as it looks to lure Hollywood studios to the desert kingdom and bolster its own local film and television industry. The country will give productions a 35% location rebate on films that shoot in Saudi Arabia; it will also give companies and studios a 50% rebate any local […]

Saudi Film Council Announces First Project: ‘Wadjda’ Director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s ‘The Perfect Candidate’

Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, and one of the country’s most hotly debated, Haifaa Al-Mansour, is directing her next film, “The Perfect Candidate,” with support from the General Culture Authority of Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Film Council.

“The Perfect Candidate,” will be the first film in the film council’s slate, according to United Talent Agency, which reps Al-Mansour.

The Saudi government has audacious plans to build out a massive entertainment industry and invest more in the country’s film and entertainment, as the powers that be attempt to modernize.

Also Read: At Glitzy Promo, Saudi Arabia Invites Hollywood to Join Its $80 Billion Leap Into Entertainment

The film will also have financing from German public funds and television.

“I believe that change must ultimately be sustained and driven by the people who are most in need of improvements and increased mobility in their daily lives,” Al-Mansour said in a statement. “I want to help lead this positive change by telling a story that is full of hope and celebrates the power of resiliency and hard work. I want to encourage Saudi women to seize the moment, to take a chance, and break away from the system that for so long has held us back.”

“The Perfect Candidate” will be produced by Al Mansour Productions in Saudi Arabia and Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul of Razor Film Produktion in Berlin.

The drama tells the story of a young female doctor who runs for municipal office while her father is off touring the country with the re-established Saudi National Band, which has been banned under law prohibiting public music performances. The story applauds women’s ambitions in politics while celebrating Saudi’s lost arts and the return of music to its small towns. The film’s protagonist draws similarities form Al-Mansour, as she is prompted to disrupt the societal constructs that permeate her conservative, male-dominated culture.

Also Read: Cannes’ Female Troubles: Women Directors Have Always Been Scarce

The co-production was negotiated by UTA Independent Film Group which will handle sales in North America. The Match Factory will handle sales internationally. Al-Mansour will direct from a script she wrote with Brad Niemann. Filming is expected to start in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia by mid-September.

Al-Mansour’s 2012 award-winning film “Wadjda” was the first film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and was the desert kingdom’s first submission for the Academy Awards.

Following the success of Wadjda, Al-Mansour filmed two other features, including “Mary Shelley,” based on the late Frankenstein author, and “Nappily Ever After,” based on the book by Trisha R. Thomas.

Al-Mansour is repped by UTA, Anonymous Content and Loeb & Loeb.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Study: Male Indie Filmmakers Outnumber Women 2 to 1 at Major US Film Festivals

Saudi Arabia’s First New Movie Theaters Welcome Women – But Only With Chaperones (For Now)

Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Close to Investment by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince (Exclusive)

Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, and one of the country’s most hotly debated, Haifaa Al-Mansour, is directing her next film, “The Perfect Candidate,” with support from the General Culture Authority of Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Film Council.

“The Perfect Candidate,” will be the first film in the film council’s slate, according to United Talent Agency, which reps Al-Mansour.

The Saudi government has audacious plans to build out a massive entertainment industry and invest more in the country’s film and entertainment, as the powers that be attempt to modernize.

The film will also have financing from German public funds and television.

“I believe that change must ultimately be sustained and driven by the people who are most in need of improvements and increased mobility in their daily lives,” Al-Mansour said in a statement. “I want to help lead this positive change by telling a story that is full of hope and celebrates the power of resiliency and hard work. I want to encourage Saudi women to seize the moment, to take a chance, and break away from the system that for so long has held us back.”

“The Perfect Candidate” will be produced by Al Mansour Productions in Saudi Arabia and Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul of Razor Film Produktion in Berlin.

The drama tells the story of a young female doctor who runs for municipal office while her father is off touring the country with the re-established Saudi National Band, which has been banned under law prohibiting public music performances. The story applauds women’s ambitions in politics while celebrating Saudi’s lost arts and the return of music to its small towns. The film’s protagonist draws similarities form Al-Mansour, as she is prompted to disrupt the societal constructs that permeate her conservative, male-dominated culture.

The co-production was negotiated by UTA Independent Film Group which will handle sales in North America. The Match Factory will handle sales internationally. Al-Mansour will direct from a script she wrote with Brad Niemann. Filming is expected to start in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia by mid-September.

Al-Mansour’s 2012 award-winning film “Wadjda” was the first film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and was the desert kingdom’s first submission for the Academy Awards.

Following the success of Wadjda, Al-Mansour filmed two other features, including “Mary Shelley,” based on the late Frankenstein author, and “Nappily Ever After,” based on the book by Trisha R. Thomas.

Al-Mansour is repped by UTA, Anonymous Content and Loeb & Loeb.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Study: Male Indie Filmmakers Outnumber Women 2 to 1 at Major US Film Festivals

Saudi Arabia's First New Movie Theaters Welcome Women – But Only With Chaperones (For Now)

Ari Emanuel's Endeavor Close to Investment by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince (Exclusive)