MARRAKECH, Morocco– The Walt Disney Company is set to expand its footprint across French-speaking Africa.
The company is hosting the screening of “Moana” – dubbed in Arabic — at the Marrakech Film Festival on Sunday, ahead of the movie’s theatrical roll-out in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria on Monday (Dec.5).
“Moana” marks the first Disney movie to be shown at the festival and the first Disney film to be dubbed in Arabic in the Magrehb (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria). Disney has traditionally limited Arabic dubbing to Middle-Eastern countries. Audiences in former French colonies – Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria — only had access to Disney movies dubbed in French up until now, even though Arabic is increasingly considered the primary spoken language.
The move is part of Disney’s strategic push into French-speaking Africa, a market boasting a fast-growing middle-class and young consumers who often have a taste for Hollywood films as well as family entertainment and merchandising.
Within the next year, Disney will aim at expanding the scope of its releases in French-speaking Africa (spanning Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Gabon Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia), anticipating the growth of the theatrical landscape. France’s largest cinema circuit, the Gaumont-Pathe theater chain, is expected to launch in the region next year.
Just last week, The Walt Disney Company inked a multi-deal with Canal Plus to distribute its films and TV series (from Marvel Studios, Disney Pixar, Lucas Film and Studio Ghibli) on Canal Plus channels in Africa and well as to distribute Disney’s four channels, in exclusivity.
Disney also just sold first-run rights to the ABC Studios-produced hit show “Black-ish” to Afrostream, the subscription-based VOD service dedicated to African-American, African and Caribbean films.