×

MipTV: MBC Group and Image Nation Abu Dhabi Forge Production Partnership

ROME — Top Arab free-to-air satcaster MBC Group and prominent Middle East production company Image Nation Abu Dhabi, which has Hollywood ties, have announced a film and TV production partnership that will spawn an ambitious Saudi Arabia-set sci-fi feature film and its bold TV spinoff, plus two more TV series.

The tie-up could become a game changer in the region where edgy high-end original productions are scarce.

MBC’s production arm O3 Productions and Image Nation have announced they will co-finance and co-produce an Arabic-language adaptation of Saudi author Ibraheem Abbas’ sci-fi novel “HWJN,” a pop culture phenomenon across the Arab world. The book about a supernatural being described as “a friendly devout Jinn” in press materials who forges a friendship with a female Saudi medical student named Sawsan, has become a best-seller in several Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, though it has been reportedly banned in Kuwait and Qatar. The censorship may partly help to explain why it has allegedly been illegally dowloaded more than a million times.  The director of the “HWJN” adaptation is still being decided.

The spin-off of the sci-fi feature will be entitled “The Delusionists” and will see the film’s supernatural protagonist team up with another character to “track down and expose the charlatans and fake peddlers of black magic and sorcery in modern day Saudi Arabia which has reached epidemic levels,” according to a statement, thus providing a “unique take on modern Saudi and Arab society.”

The two other TV series to be made under the partnership are being kept under wraps.

MBC, which was among producers of Palestinian director Hani Abu Assad’s movie “The Idol,” has until now kept a rather low profile as an Arab scripted content producer, preferring to rely on acquisitions rather than original productions to feed its channels. Image Nation Abu Dhabi, which is headed by U.S. exec Michael Garin, has a slate combining Emirati feature films, such as director Ali Mostafa’s dystopian thriller “The Worthy,” and Hollywood movies through partnerships with, among others, Parkes/Macdonald Productions. On the TV side they recently completed production on groundbreaking Abu Dhabi-set legal drama “Justice,” inspired by “L.A. Law.” Written by Emmy Award-winning U.S. producer and writer William Finkelstein in collaboration with a local team, Justice is the first legal procedural out of the Middle East and the biggest TV show out of the United Arab Emirates.

“We are delighted with our collaboration with Image Nation Abu Dhabi, thus integrating our efforts, expertise and production vision,” said Fadi Ismail, Group Director of 03 Productions, in a statement. He noted that the partnership “will ultimately contribute to uplifting and enhancing the artistic direction and production value of Gulf dramas in general and Saudi dramas in particular.”

Ben Ross, who is Head of Narrative Film and Television at Image Nation, noted that the strategic partnership “reinforces Image Nation’s position as a valued production partner in the region and adds to our already robust slate of programs across film and television.”

More TV

  • The Bone Collector

    NBC Orders 'Bone Collector' Drama Pilot 'Lincoln'

    NBC has ordered the drama pilot “Lincoln,” formerly known as “The Bone Collector.” Based on the internationally bestselling book series, “Lincoln” follows legendary forensic criminologist Lincoln Rhyme, who was seriously injured during his hunt for the diabolic serial killer known as the Bone Collector. Called back into action when the killer re-emerges, Lincoln forms a [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Turns in Record Q4 Subscriber Gains, Price Increase Weighs on U.S. Forecast

    Netflix is beating Wall Street expectations on international subscriber growth — but its recently announced price increase in the U.S. may have put a damper on its momentum in the States. For the fourth quarter of 2018, Netflix reported 1.53 million paid net adds in the U.S. and 7.31 million internationally, to end the year [...]

  • vudu-free-movies-tv-shows

    Walmart Brushes Off Reports of Streaming Development Halt

    Walmart isn’t ruling out options for a potential streaming video service, a company spokesperson says. Responding to a CNBC report that the mega-retailer had decided not to launch its own streaming entertainment service after all, Walmart would not confirm that there was any halt in development of such a platform, and did not have anything definitive [...]

  • THE KOMINSKY METHOD

    'Kominsky Method' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

    Netflix has picked up “The Kominsky Method” for a second season. The comedy stars starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin recently won two Golden Globe Awards, one for best comedy series and the other for Douglas in the best actor in a comedy series category. Arkin was also nominated in the supporting actor category. Season 2 [...]

  • Crackle Latin America

    Sony Shuts Down Crackle Latin America Business

    Sony Pictures Television is folding the Crackle Latin America subscription VOD service, which has 400,000 subscribers across 17 countries, after concluding the business isn’t economically viable. Crackle Latin America first launched in April 2012 as an ad-supported streaming service — like the U.S. version of Crackle — before switching in 2016 to a subscription video-on-demand [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content