This joint venture replicates the successful model adapted between Front Row and exhibitor Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC).
Independent film distributor major Front Row Filmed Entertainment and Saudi Exhibition chain Muvi Cinemas have sealed a deal to form a Saudi-based distribution company, Front Row Arabia. The joint venture will focus on the theatrical distribution of Western, Arabic language and Japanese Anime content as well as alternative content across the Kingdom. The first official release as part of this partnership will be Liam Neeson’s action-packed The Marksman on January 21.
Muvi Cinemas is the first home-grown cinema brand in Saudi Arabia with its headquarters in Riyadh. The Saudi Arabian chain currently operates 10 locations and covers six cities with a total of 103 screens, with aggressive plans to expand to 610+ screens by 2025 in more cities. Muvi Cinemas offers three large cinema format branded as Xperience, 3 Dolby Cinema Screens, 3 ONYX Screens, 5 ScreenX Screens as well as 13 Luxury “Suites” and a screen dedicated to kids and family branded “Junior” all carefully designed by the global architects and master planners Chapman Taylor.
Front Row currently acquires over 100 titles a year for the Middle East and North Africa, 45 of which are distributed theatrically in the region. Just before the lockdown, Front Row in collaboration with Kuwait National Cinema Company released the Arabic-language blockbuster El Folos, which currently stands as the highest grossing Arabic film of all time in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf as a whole.
This joint venture replicates the successful model adapted between Front Row and exhibitor Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC), which currently controls 86% of the Kuwait theatrical market share.
“We have been monitoring Front Row’s activity for quite a while and their diversity, innovative business model and future plans are very much aligned with our vision which includes distribution of Hollywood, local language content and beyond. We cannot wait to start this venture together and contribute to the expansion of the entertainment sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” commented Sultain Alhokair, Muvi Cinemas’ CEO.
Gianluca Chakra, CEO of Front Row added: “Saudi Arabia is now a significant addition to the aggressive and meticulous expansion Muvi Cinemas have shown in the Kingdom is, to say the least, impressive. Muvi Cinemas has shown great interest in expanding the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia and have not limited their vision solely to the exhibition. Muvi Cinemas’ forward-thinking strategy is exemplary to the region and we cannot wait to launch our first films together and expand from there. Saudi Arabia is a growing market in the region and we are happy to add another valuable piece to our distribution network through this joint venture with Muvi Cinemas. This will offer our current and future partners the most efficient and complete all-rights distribution set up in the Middle East.”
The deal was negotiated between CEO Gianluca Chakra, President Hisham AlGhanim and COO Nicolas Torloting for Front Row and CEO Sultan Alhokair, COO Adon Quinn and Development Director Majed Bahaffi for Muvi Cinemas. Legal Advisors Abdulaziz Alajlan & Partners in association with Baker & McKenzie Limited are advising Muvi Cinema on the legal aspects of the transaction.
Front Row’s upcoming releases include The Marksman, Sia’s Music, Gintama: The Final, The Father, Flag Day, The Card Counter, Seal Team, Ari Folman’s Where Is Anne Frank? and Studio Ghibli’s Earwig and the Witch among many others.