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Gulf grows exhibition business

Co. to open screens in Jordan, Dubai

Gulf Film is cementing its position as the region’s most powerful distrib by aiming to become the region’s biggest exhib.

Company is opening 10 screens in Jordan in May, on top of its existing five, as well as another 12 in Dubai in December — leaving them with 160 screens across the region, including in Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.

“We control the Gulf, which means we control the Middle East,” said Salim Ramia, who runs Gulf Film along with partner Ahmed Golchin.

Away from its studio deals with DreamWorks, Universal and Paramount, whose movies its sub-distributes from 4 Star Films, Gulf Film has joint ventures with fellow Mideast distribs Eagle, ECS and Jaguar. It also has first-look partnerships with Morgan Creek, Spyglass and other U.S. shingles that has given it a lion’s share of market.

Ramia is also trying to diversify his slate beyond Hollywood fare, picking up foreign-language titles “Pan’s Labyrinth” and Korean monster movie “The Host” for Mideast releases. Gulf Film has also inked a deal with Hong Kong shingle Emperor.

Ramia has been busy in Berlin, pre-buying “Dare to Love Me,” Alfonso Arau’s tango biopic that could mark Shakira’s movie debut, Anne Hathaway-starrer “Passengers” and Richard Gere drama “Spring Break in Bosnia.”

The Market still has a long way to go, in Ramia’s view, before it matches Cannes’ status though. “I come here to socialize,” he said. “There’s no product.”

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