Epic nabs $700,000 in region

Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Arabian epic “Black Gold” is a hit in the Middle East and Arab world where it’s on course to make more than $1 million theatrically.

Pic, which toplines Tahar Rahim, Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong and Freida Pinto, is tied for the No.1 slot with Adam Sandler comedy “Jack and Jill.”

Its box office sits at around $700,000 and, after holding well, is expected to pass $1 million this weekend.

Co-produced by Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications and the Doha Film Institute, pic has sold out in a number of territories including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Pic, which benefited from a big marketing push, follows the rivalry of two young emirs set against the backdrop of 1930s Arab states at the peak of the oil boom — a subject that has resonated with local auds.

Warner Bros. is releasing the pic through Shooting Stars, its sub-distrib in the region.

Pic bowed in Gaul on Nov. 23; Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Syria on Nov. 24; and Tunisia on Nov. 25. It opened in Lebanon, Oman, UAE and Qatar (following its Oct. 25 preem at Doha Tribeca Film Festival) on Dec. 1.

In Tunisia, where part of the pic was filmed, it has tallied more than 30,000 admissions, a feat in a country with a population of just 10.5 million.

Quinta is in advanced negotiations with a U.S. buyer. An announcement is expected to be made before the end of the year.

Quinta’s Eagle Pictures is distributing the pic in Italy on Dec. 23. WB is releasing the pic in Latin America and Blighty early next year while Universal is releasing it in Spain on Jan. 20 and Germany on Feb. 9.

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