You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

iTunes Seals Deal With Middle East Distributor Front Row

VENICE – Prominent Dubai-based independent Middle East film distributor, Front Row Filmed Entertainment has sealed a deal with iTunes under which it will act as an aggregator for independent Arabic and Bollywood distribution companies who aim to make their titles available across the Middle East and also worldwide.

The agreement is particularly significant because Arab nations have one of the world’s largest populations of digital-savvy consumers and are heavily underscreened. In entertainment hungry Saudi Arabia, movie theatres are banned by conservative clerics.

In Saudi, Front Row will looking to provide windows on iTunes so audiences can watch films playing in Middle East theatres day-and-date at a premium.

iTunes is the only platform in the Middle East that offers simultaneous releases in eight countries: UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait.

Front Row is considered a pioneer in the Middle Eastern VOD market after introducing the “Premium VOD Window” with titles such as Bent Hammer’s “The Resident,” Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In,” and George Clooney’s “The Ides of March.”

They have also launched several of the their theatrical titles through electronic sell through including Pierce Brosnan-starrer “A Long Way Down,” “Rush,” and Nadine Labaki’s all-time Middle East box office champ “Where Do We Go Now,” in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. Their next theatrical release is Liam Neeson-starrer “A Walk Among The Tombstones” (pictured).

“With 109 iTunes Movie Stores globally, this is an exciting opportunity for Arab Cinema and emerging local talent, not only across the region, but also worldwide,” enthused Hisham Al Ghanim, General Manager of the Kuwait National Cinema Company and partner in Front Row Filmed Entertainment in a statement.

“With Free Television not acquiring independent titles, the DVD market dying, and Pay TV being extremely selective, I’m sure that local film distributors will finally find a common ground and encourage the VOD medium even more. We’re sure iTunes will become the place to turn to when looking for a movie,” added Gianluca Chakra, who is Front Row’s Managing Partner.

Front Row was launched in 2003 by Gianluca and Michel Chakra. It currently boasts a film library of over 875 titles which include VOD and TV rights. The company is also partners with the Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC) that represents a 97% market share in the Kuwaiti exhibition market. Kuwait currently represents 36% of the Middle East theatrical business.

Front Row and KNCC acquire between 90-120 titles a year and are leaders in the Arabic language titles acquiring almost 70% of the Arabic language-produced titles for the Middle East.

Popular on Variety

More Film


    Warner Bros. Grabs Atresmedia, Bambú’s 'El verano que vivimos' (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN —    Warner Bros. Pictures Intl. has grabbed near-worldwide distribution rights to “El verano que vivimos,” a romantic melodrama directed by “Fariña” Carlos Sedes and co-produced with Atresmedia Cine, Bambú Producciones and La Claqueta. One of the most awaited local releases of next year, “El verano que vivimos” rolls from August for nine [...]


    Watch Trailer to San Sebastian’s ‘Patrick,’ Sold by The Match Factory (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN —  Sales house The Match Factory is launching exclusively via Variety the trailer of “Patrick,” Gonçalo Waddington’s debut feature, as the film world premieres in the Official Selection at the San Sebastian Festival. Screening in main competition, “Patrick” recounts the story of an eight-year old Portuguese boy, Mario, who is re-discovered years later [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in ONCE UPON

    Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Gets Oct. 25 China Release

    Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is scheduled for a China release on Oct. 25, three months after its U.S. debut. The mainland opening will hit after the country’s National Day holiday in the first week of October, which this year marks a key and politically sensitive anniversary — the 70th year of [...]


    Filmax Acquires International on ‘The Curse of the Handsome Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Barcelona-based boutique studio Filmax has acquired international rights to Argentine producer-director Beda Docampo’s “The Curse of the Handsome Man,” produced by Ibón Cormenzana’s Arcadia Motion Pictures alongside Cados Producciones and Damned Besso –based in Spain—in co-production with Cecilia Díez’s Zarlek Producciones (“Medianeras”) in Argentina. The film is backed by Spanish public broadcaster [...]

  • La-mala-familia

    Javi Tasio Talks ECAM Incubator Title ‘La Mala Familia’

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Via their BRBR collective, filmmakers Nacho A. Villar and Luis Rojo have directed award winning music videos, and commercias. Now they’ll make the leap to features with “La Mala Familia,” a gritty urban drama set in the outskirts of Madrid. Variety spoke with the film’s producer, Javi Tasio, who developed this project at ECAM’s [...]

  • Charlie-Chaplin-and-Horse-Roy-Export-Co

    Carmen Chaplin to Direct ‘Charlie Chaplin, a Man of the World’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Director-producer-actress Carmen Chaplin is set to direct “Charlie Chaplin, a Man of the World,” a theatrical documentary feature which will add a hardly-explored new facet to the creator of the Tramp, one of the most iconic cinema characters in popular consciousness, plumbing Chaplin’s Romani roots and heritage. Marking the first time that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content