Further expanding its global reach, MGM International Television Productions has signed a multi-year deal with MBC Group, a leading media company in West Asia and Northern Africa, to develop and co-produce premium original series.
MBC Group will air these series exclusively on MBC’s Shahid VIP streaming service, with MGM handling co-production and distribution for the rest of the world. The two companies already have a well-established relationship and recently partnered on MGM’s anticipated shows “Last Light” and “Billy the Kid,” which will air on MBC.
“MBC Group is uniquely positioned to tell stories that will combine regional focus with global interest,” said Sheikh Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, chairman of MBC Group. The exec said the deal marks “a major step forward in diversifying the group and building on its current strengths.”
Sam Barnett, MBC Group’s CEO, noted that the partnership marks the banner’s “first big co-production deal with a major studio” and prompts the company’s “entrance into the global scene.”
“We have 30 years of experience telling stories that touch the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the Middle East and North Africa,” added Barnett. “Now with a great and global partner like MGM, we’re extending our reach beyond this region.”
“Last Light,” the anticipated dystopian thriller starring “Lost” actor Matthew Fox and Emmy-nominated Joanne Froggatt (“Downton Abbey”) wrapped production in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 20 after shooting in Prague and Paris. The mini-series revolves around a family whose lives are upended when oil supplies are contaminated by an infectious agent, causing society to implode in the face of global disaster. Dennie Gordon (“Jack Ryan”) directed the series and is serving as executive producer. Patrick Massett and John Zinman (“The Blacklist”) serve as showrunners and executive producers.
“Billy the Kid,” meanwhile, is an epic romantic drama series from Michael Hirst (“Vikings”) starring British actor Tom Blyth (“Benediction”) as the famous American outlaw. Otto Bathurst (“Peaky Blinders”) directed the first two episodes of the first season, which premieres on EPIX in the U.S on April 24. The series is co-produced by EPIX Studios and MGM International Television Productions.
“For centuries, audiences all over the world have been fascinated by the art and creativity of the Arabian culture — long before Scheherazade’s tales of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ hit the screens globally,” said Rola Bauer, president of MGM International TV Productions. She said the goal will be to “develop the best stories and connect storytellers from the East and West,” and create “series that are crossing borders, breaking boundaries and will kickstart conversations, all around the globe.”
MGM Worldwide Television chairman Mark Burnett pointed out that the group has signed many content and talent partnerships since launching in June 2020, notably in France, Australia, the Nordics, Latin America and now East Asia and Northern Africa via MBC Group. “MGM Television is perfectly positioned to continue building our international expansion of signature premium content together with Rola and the incredible team we have assembled,” said Burnett.
The company also recently announced a new co-production partnership with NENT Group to develop original series together, as well as an exclusive first-look deal with Simon Baker. The international studio also boasts first-look deals with Sydney Gallonde of Make It Happen Studio, Erika Halvorsen, Tamara Tenenbaum and leading Spanish talent manager Ruth Franco.
Besides “Billy the Kid” and “Last Light,” MGM International Television Productions’ roster of recently shot series include “El Fin del Amor” (Amazon Studios), Harlan Coben’s “Shelter” (Amazon Studios), “Mariachis” (HBO Max) and “The Reunion” (France Televisions/Make it Happen Studio).
MBC Studios’ recent and current productions include “Kandahar,” an action film starring Gerard Butler as a CIA agent who attempts a harrowing escape from Afghanistan, among others.