Dubai-based distributor Gulf Film has secured Middle East theatrical distribution rights to "Spectre" and plans to release the upcoming 24th James Bond film across the region on November 6, day-and-date with its U.S. outing.Gulf Film's agreement with MGM is being touted as a key step in the expansion of the regions's dominant local distribution/exhibition outfit."It was very important for us to secure the rights of a movie of that stature," said Gulf CEO Selim El Azar, noting that "the production...
Since setting up Gulf Film in 1989, he turned the company into the Middle East’s leading film distributor and subsequently also into one of the region’s top exhibitors through its Novo Cinemas theatre chain subsidiary. El Azar, who is Lebanon-born and Dubai-based, is a Middle East film distribution pioneer who has systematically developed and built relationships with Hollywood studios and indies, and also with prominent European production companies, for decades.
Gulf Film’s market position has grown just as moviegoing gained more traction in parts of the Middle East, particularly the Gulf where movie screens were previously inexistent. Accordingly in 2000 he expanded into exhibition through its Grand Cinemas subsidiary which was re-branded as Novo Cinemas in 2014. In 2012, Gulf Film was acquired by Elan (formerly known as Qatar Media Services, the Qatar government’s media unit).
Gulf Film currently commands a 51% market share and distributes roughly 120 titles per year, the vast majority of them Hollywood blockbusters and thrillers, plus some Bollywood titles and Egyptian Arabic pics. For the first time in 2016 they sealed an equity investment deal with French mini-major Europacorp for big-budget sci-fi title, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” The film was the first venture of Novo Pictures, the film-equity brand Gulf launched in April.