Hollywood has a new conduit to a largely untapped developing market with a population close to 2 billion, in territories comprising India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey.
Joseph Samaan’s Tanweer Group, the MENA and Southeast Asia distributor with close ties to Disney, Lakeshore, Lionsgate, and the Weinstein Co., is forming an acquisition and distribution powerhouse in partnership with Pakistan’s IMGC Global. It has ambitions of becoming the region’s main liaison for U.S. indies and plans to expand the area’s screen capacity.
“It was a good move for us to join forces,” Samaan said. “We did it to bolster our operation and buy more films, of course, and probably develop a local production or co-production arm.”
IMGC, which is the media arm of a Pakistani conglomerate, has a history of making movies in Pakistan, where TV production is now dominant. It is also a major distributor of Bollywood product in the country.
The deep-pocketed new company, which is called Tanweer – IMGC ventures, is based in Dubai with other offices in Karachi, Pakistan and Istanbul.
IMGC chairman Sheikh Amjad Rashid said they will put up cineplexes in the region, starting in Pakistan, which only has around 100 screens compared with as many as 1,200 in the past. “We want to bring people back to cinemas,” he said.
Both partners underscored that productions from the Hollywood indies remain their primary concern and focus, but that producing local movies is also key to bringing people back into movie theaters.