×

Middle East Distributor Front Row Hires Former Disney Exec, Expands Into Production

Dubai-based Middle East distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment is expanding into production to capitalize on the potential of the nascent Saudi market and has hired former Disney exec Nicolas Torloting to handle its day-to-day operations as COO.

Torloting, who is French, was previously with The Walt Disney Company for 15 years, occupying roles in finance, business development and strategy before being becoming the Mouse House’s senior manager overseeing its licensed partners in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Greece, Israel and Turkey.

Front Row is a pioneer in distribution in the Middle East, having long ago gone beyond theatrical distribution to forge relationships with Apple, Google and local pay-TV players and streamers such as Iflix, with which it ventured into production on 2017 Egyptian comedy series “Tough Luck.” On the film front, the company recently announced an Arabic remake of hit Italian dramedy “Perfect Strangers” and have other Arabic projects in the pipeline.

Torloting’s hire, which follows the recent appointments of former Sony and Fox exec Eli Touma as Front Row’s acquisitions chief and Micallar Walker-Smith, previously head of events at Picturehouse in the U.K., as head of marketing, will allow the company’s top brass to focus mainly on production of mostly Arabic content.

Front Row President Hisham AlGhanim and CEO Gianluca Chakra will continue to oversee all local and international acquisitions. 

“I’ve known Gianluca and Hisham for over 15 years and saw their growth throughout, building an impressive setup making Front Row the most innovative and successful film distribution company in the Middle East,” Torloting said in a statement.

“With the opening of the Saudi market into the theatrical world and the quick and continuous market shifts, I believe that the MENA theatrical, TV and VOD markets will expand strongly in the upcoming years. Front Row, with its innovative culture will play a key role in taking the lead in this evolution,” Torloting added.

Chakra said that Torloting’s “experience and wealth of knowledge especially in markets like Saudi will be key in expanding into that territory.”

Chakra said Front Row had already started acquiring other IPs besides “Perfect Strangers” for Arabic-language remakes of TV and film. Besides Arabic-language fare, it also has “a couple of high-concept international features” that will be announced later this year.

Our roadmap is clear,” said AlGhanim. “Nicolas will focus on enhancing Front Row’s organization in order to keep leading the market changes whilst Gianluca and myself will expand the local production projects and develop an ambitious acquisition plan of international and Arabic-language content.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Yara Shahidi

    Audible Teams Up With Big Names as Audio-Only Storytelling Expands

    Hobnobbing with the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Kate McKinnon and Yara Shahidi isn’t typically the gloss applied to the cerebral audiobook set, but Audible is putting the humble audio story through its own movie-makeover montage, inking high-profile development deals with entertainment names like “The Walking Dead” comics creator Skybound Entertainment, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Lorne [...]

  • Parasite

    Oscars: South Korea Selects Palme d'Or Winner 'Parasite' for International Feature Film Award

    South Korea has selected Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winner “Parasite” as its entry for the newly rebranded International Feature Film award at the 92nd Academy Awards, it was announced Wednesday by the Korean Film Council. U.S. distributor Neon had already positioned the film as a prime awards season contender following the film’s triumph at the Cannes Film [...]

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh'Patrick Melrose' TV show

    Gina Rodriguez's Sci-Fi Thriller 'Awake' Rounds Out Cast (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barry Pepper and “Game of Thrones” actor Finn Jones will join Gina Rodriguez in Netflix’s sci-fi thriller “Awake.” The newly announced cast also includes Ariana Greenblatt, Frances Fisher, Shamier Anderson, Lucius Hoyos and Gil Bellows. “Awake” is set after a sudden global event wipes out all electronics and takes away humankind’s ability [...]

  • Woody Allen

    Woody Allen's 'A Rainy Day in New York' to Open Deauville Film Festival

    After being shelved by Amazon Studios in the U.S., Woody Allen’s “A Rainy Day in New York” will be opening the 45th edition of the Deauville American Film Festival in France this fall. “A Rainy Day in New York,” which stars Timotheé Chalamet and Elle Fanning, will be the 8th film by Allen to play [...]

  • Geneva Wasserman

    Condé Nast Taps Film Veteran Geneva Wasserman as SVP of Motion Pictures

    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Geneva Wasserman as senior vice president of motion pictures, overseeing development of the media company’s slate of feature film properties. Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, most recently served as co-founder and executive producer of production firm Project Z Entertainment. She takes over the role at CNE after [...]

  • Phyllis Nagy

    Writers Guild Candidate Phyllis Nagy Warns of Risks to Residuals (EXCLUSIVE)

    Phyllis Nagy, who is challenging Writers Guild of America West President David Goodman, has warned that guild leaders are endangering future residuals. Nagy, in a message posted Wednesday on her Writers Forward Together site, said residual payments are the most important issue the WGA faces during upcoming negotiations on a successor deal to the current master [...]

  • New York Festival Sets Documentaries on

    New York Film Festival Sets Documentaries on Merce Cunningham, Roy Cohn

    Films on Merce Cunningham, Roy Cohn and Oliver Sacks are among the notable titles set for the Spotlight on Documentary lineup at the 57th New York Film Festival. Alla Kovgan’s “Cunningham 3D” centers on dancer and choreographer Cunningham, who was at the forefront of American modern dance for half a century. The Cohn documentary “Bully. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content