Middle East distributor and producer Front Row Filmed Entertainment and production, finance and sales company Rocket Science have entered into a joint venture to form Yalla Yalla, a Dubai-based film and television company focused on Arabic-language entertainment.
Yalla Yalla will develop, package, produce and finance television and feature film projects for the fast expanding Middle East and North Africa market, with a view to expanding beyond the region. The team has already been active in acquiring remake rights as well as developing original content for both theatrical and television with the aim of having four feature films and two television series produced within the first 18 months.
Rocket Science will leverage its talent, producing and financing relationships in the U.S. and Europe, while Front Row and its partner, Kuwait National Cinema Company, will harness their regional relationships with filmmakers, tastemakers and financiers.
The company will collaborate with former Wild Bunch head of acquisitions, Rita Dagher, who will serve as a creative producer. Dagher’s credits include “A Prayer Before Dawn,” “Miss Julie,” “Four Lions” and “Fahrenheit 9/11.” She is in the process of staffing up the Dubai team.
Gianluca Chakra of Front Row Filmed Entertainment, and Rocket Science’s Thorsten Schumacher said: “Establishing this new venture felt natural to us and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Both company’s complementary expertise, relationships and positioning create a solid foundation to make this company thrive as the leading content player in the Middle East as the MENA market expands. Rita’s experience and knowledge in the region and internationally will be key in identifying projects and local talent and bringing these projects to life.”
Dagher added: “The Middle East, including North Africa, thrives with powerful stories waiting to be told. Yalla Yalla will provide a home for a new wave of exciting and diverse filmmakers with unique voices to tell their stories and embrace all kinds of genres and formats. Our intention is to encourage filmmakers to go into new directions and be part of, not just the Arab world, but also an international one.”
Rocket Science’s Cannes slate includes Ana Lily Amirpour’s reboot of “Cliffhanger”; Hallie Meyer’s “Shyer’s Goodrich,” starring Michael Keaton; Azazel Jacobs’ “French Exit,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges and Tracy Letts; Michael Wech and Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns’s documentary “Schumacher,” based on Formula One driver Michael Schumacher; Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly’s “Queenpins,” starring Leslie Jones and Kristen Bell; Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” with Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen and Seth Rogen; Amirpour’s “Blood Moon,” starring Kate Hudson; Gary Shore’s “Queen Mary”; and Jonathan Jakubowicz’s “Resistance,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, which is in post-production.