Vox Cinemas has announced an ambitious plan to develop 25 Arabic films over the next five years.
Vox is already the region’s largest cinema exhibitor, with more than 600 screens across the Middle East, and oversees a large distribution operation for the likes of Warner Bros and 21st Century Fox, among other international and regional releases. Most recently, the company distributed Al Kameen – The Ambush, the largest Arabic feature film production in the GCC. The film smashed box office records across the Gulf region to become the highest-grossing Arabic language movie in the UAE.
Its move into large-scale production could also make Vox one of the Middle East’s key players in film production. It is already no stranger to the field – in 2019, Vox entered a co-production partnership with Abu Dhabi studio twofour54 and Saudi broadcaster and studio MBC. The trio made their on-screen co-production debut with Rami Yasin’s 2020 vampire drama Three Four Eternity.
The five-year plan announcement was made at the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah, where Vox is the exclusive cinema partner.
Ignace Lahoud, chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment and Cinemas, said: “Cinemas and content production offer tremendous potential for regional economic growth, particularly in Saudi Arabia’s up and coming film industry, which we believe will significantly contribute to Vision 2030. Majid Al Futtaim is aligned with Saudi Arabia Film Commission’s plans to develop a burgeoning cinema sector as attested by our expanding footprint and today’s commitment to produce a slate of 25 Arabic films in the next five years.”
As part of the production initiative, Vox says it will continue to support the next generation of home-grown filmmakers and content developers and provide resources for emerging filmmakers to bring their scripts to screen. The company previously provided mentorship to Saudi production company Myrkott, which was instrumental in the box office success of its animated feature film Masameer, both locally and regionally.
“We want to leverage local talent ranging from actors to writers to producers to directors,” Lahoud said. “The region is actively now pursuing attractive packages from an incentives perspective. We know the Saudi authorities are looking at tax incentives and rebates for production. Other countries in the region offer those already so we’re also really encouraged by that perspective.”
He said: “Film has the power not only to entertain, but to transcend boundaries and advance cultural dialogue. The Middle East has a long history steeped in storytelling and a wealth of emerging talent that has been gaining international prominence in recent years ... We will continue to champion emerging talent, amplify creative voices, and provide audiences with a window into the rich culture of the Arab world.”