Egyptian Media Biz Cautiously Optimistic

Morsi ouster may lead to more liberal media environment

ROME — Calm returned to Cairo on Thursday after a night of dancing in the streets in Egypt and celebrations over the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who has been replaced by the chief justice of the constitutional court, Adli Mansour, sworn in Thursday as acting head of state in a ceremony broadcast live on the Egyptian Television Network pubcaster.

While the outlook for the Egyptian entertainment industry, in what is the Arab world’s film industry powerhouse, remains unclear, “the general sentiment in the film community is quite optimistic,” said producer Mohamed Hefzi.

“I suspect that if things calm down politically there could be more ad spending going towards entertainment and away from political talk shows, which will be good both for the TV and film industries,” Hefzi noted.

Hefzi’s Cairo-based Film Clinic shingle churns out some of the Mid-East’s freshest fare, including upcoming Cairo-set 3D chiller “Site 146,” for Fox International Productions.

“Finally we got rid of the Muslim Brotherhood. They were a real nightmare,” enthused film analyst and promoter Alaa Karkouti, head of Cairo-based Mad Solutions.

Karkouti cautioned that many of the Egyptian industry’s structural problems continue to persist. He cited the curious fact that movie showtimes in Egypt are not staggered, even in multiplexes, partly because all tickets must be stamped manually for tax collection purposes.

“If they fixed that, it would help increase revenues,” he said.

Karkouti also pointed out that a key upcoming element will be who is appointed topper of the country’s culture ministry.

When the recent explosive turmoil mounted, the ministry had been in the process of allocating funding for the first batch of projects that made the cut for coin since the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution.

Under a “road map” for a post-Morsi government there are now plans for new parliamentary and presidential elections to be held soon. These are likely to pave the way for a government with much less Islamic-influence.

“I expect we will have a better chance with a more liberal government of higher freedom of expression, and possibly more funding for independent film production, depending on the economic outlook, within the upcoming year or two,” Hefzi predicted.

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