DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Prominent Middle East distributor/exhibitor Empire International, which handles Sony and Fox film product in the region, is expanding its Arab cinema footprint by inking a three-year output deal with ambitious new Egyptian shingle Synergy Films.
The move is said to mark the first time an Egyptian production does a distribution deal of this type.
The managing director of Synergy Films is Ahmad Badawy, a former general manager of New Century, the production arm of Dollar Film, which is Egypt’s oldest film company.
Badawy recently left New Century to launch Synergy Films, a film production arm of Cairo-based advertising and TV production company Synergy, headed by Tamer Morsi who is one of Egypt’s top TV producers. Morsi has close ties to many Arab A-list stars and is known to have aims for Synergy to become the biggest mainstream cinema player in Egypt.
The pact between Empire International and Synergy comprises upcoming titles toplining some of Egypt’s biggest box office draws such as Mohamed Adel Emmam (“The Yacoubian Building”), Yasmin Sabry (“Gabal Al Halal”), Ahmad Fahmy (“World War III”) and singer/superstar Amr Diab, who is considered the best-selling Arab recording artists of all time and is also an actor.
Empire CEO Mario Georges Haddad (pictured, left, with Ahmad Fahmy, right) noted during a press conference at the Dubai Film Market that the three-year deal with Synergy, which envisions four releases per year, marks the first time an Egyptian studio collaborates exclusively with a Middle Eastern distributor on a regular basis.
The deal will therefore allow Empire to work on long-term marketing strategies with Synergy. “We are confident that this partnership will help bring back the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema thanks to an intelligent and modern distribution pattern,” Haddad said.
Empire’s upcoming releases include Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which will screen as a gala event on Saturday at the Dubai Film Festival. Their recent European pickups include Studiocanal’s upcoming heist movie “Night in Hatton Garden” and Pathe’s Judy Garland biopic toplining Renee Zelweger, which Empire purchased in partnership with Front Row Filmed Entertainment.