A diverse line-up of movies features local stories from new and established storytellers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and UAE.
Vox Cinemas, the dedicated cinema arm of Majid Al Futtaim, has unveiled its debut slate of original Arabic films, which it is producing under a commitment first announced in 2021 to make 25 films out of the region in five years.
The company announced the new projects on the second day of the Red Sea International Film Festival which it is sponsoring this year.
The diverse line-up, featuring titles from new and established filmmakers in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Lebanon, reaffirms Vox Cinemas’ commitment to become a major player in Arabic film production.
Speaking about Arabic films, Ignace Lahoud, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment & Cinemas, said: “It is an exciting time for Arabic film, which has been gaining plaudits and audiences in the region and beyond, and tends to outperform foreign films. Distinctly local productions, particularly in a nascent market like Saudi Arabia, offer an untapped and real opportunity. As the leading cinema company in the region, we are committed to growing a sustainable film industry and believe that establishing a dynamic content ecosystem is integral to achieving this goal.”
He added: “Storytelling is deeply rooted in Arabic culture, and Vox Cinemas is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of regional filmmakers and empowering them to use the language of film to tell their stories. The diversity of our Arabic slate reflects the multitude of creativity in MENA’s flourishing film industry, and as the region’s largest exhibitor, we have a great opportunity to leverage our scale and amplify these voices on the big screen. Through collaboration with high-calibre talents and leading partners, we are dedicated to bringing quality content to audiences in the region and beyond.”
HJWN (Hawjen) marks the third film from Vox Cinemas, Image Nation Abu Dhabi and MBC Studios having signed a landmark alliance at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 to launch a major production partnership for film and TV projects across the Middle East. The film adaptation of the Saudi fantasy romance novel of the same name is directed by Yasir Al Yasiri and is due for theatrical release next year. The three entities have also joined forces on King of the Ring, a Saudi remake of the South Korean comedy-drama hit The Foul King, which will be screening during the Red Sea International Film Festival.
Also slated for 2023 is Voy! Voy! Voy!, a collaboration between Vox Cinemas, Film Clinic and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The Egyptian film marks the directorial debut of award-winning director Omar Hilal, who is taking the leap from commercials to feature films with the support of Vox Cinemas. Inspired by true-life events, Voy! Voy! Voy! is a dramedy at its core and features an ensemble cast including stars such as Mohamed Farrag, Nelly Karim and Bayoumi Fouad alongside up-and-coming talent Taha Desouky, Amgad El Hagar and Mohamed Abdel Azeem.
Vox Cinemas will join forces with Sirb Productions, a sister company of Myrkott Animation Studio and the masterminds behind the Masameer franchise, to produce their second live-action film billed as a Saudi comedy. Creators Abdulaziz Almuzaini and Malek Nejer will be hoping to recreate the success of Masameer: The Movie, which was distributed theatrically by Vox Cinemas, and enjoyed box office success across the region, becoming one of the highest-grossing Saudi films ever.
Also on the slate is Egyptian director Hadi El Bagoury’s first Egyptian action-comedy feature film. The film is being developed in partnership with The Producers, which produced the box office hit Hepta as well as Sheikh Jackson and Excuse My French, amongst many other hits.
Vox Cinemas has joined forces with The Big Picture Studios, an Imagic Group company, on their debut feature film. The script is the result of a writers’ workshop hosted by Vox Cinemas with new voices from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon as part of its commitment to ensure authenticity and relatability when developing local films.
Vox Cinemas has also signed a deal with Blue Engine Studios, which was established by media industry veterans Ziad Kebbi and Hani Ghorayeb, to develop a Saudi comedy that takes the protagonist on an international rescue mission filled with adventure, danger and bad luck.
In line with its strategy to foster and nurture the next generation of regional storytellers, Vox Cinemas is also investing in development with various production companies. Through working with writers and hosting workshops, Vox Cinemas is enabling emerging filmmakers and providing them with the necessary resources to accelerate their careers including guidance on how to market and distribute films for the big screen.