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Middle East distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment has bought a stake in Beirut-based boutique creative agency Operation Unicorn.
Financial details and the size of the stake weren’t disclosed.
Founded in 2010, Operation Unicorn is primarily known for its work in branding and advertising, but is moving into the film and TV business, something that Front Row hopes to capitalize on as it firms up its own regional production plans.
The two companies have already worked together on a number of projects in development, including Lebanese comedy From the Bathroom, for which a pilot has already been shot, and a couples dramady spanning several Arab countries called Heads or Tails, which is shooting a pilot in March 2022. The two reportedly will be unveiling a feature film and a docuseries next year as well.
“We’re looking to pave the way for a dynamic new phase of regional content,” said Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra. “For decades the industry has been stagnant in the hands of a tight circle of creators working under a stringent set of rules and red-lines. In Operation Unicorn we have a bright and innovative outfit that we’re looking to shake-up content with. We intend to break the old formulas and restrictive creative environments while developing powerful and authentic stories that carry the voice of an entirely new generation of creators. To this end, we aim to gather like-minded emerging talent under one umbrella to produce content that will resonate with a diverse set of viewers spanning the Arab and eventually the western world.”
Alongside its projects with Operation Unicorn, Front Row has several features in the pipeline through its production arm Yalla Yalla, including an Arabic adaptation of the international hit Perfect Strangers, shot in Beirut and starring Nadine Labaki and Mona Zaki and due for a Q1 2022 release. It is also working on the Arabic remake of Intouchables, the highest grossing foreign language film of all time, with an aim to start shooting in May. Operation Unicorn is set to work with Front Row on this adaptation.
“The key to successful content is creative, honest storytelling,” said Operation Unicorn founder Nathalie Masri. “We want to inject meaningful, insightful stories into local content, stories that will resonate for an audience that feels mostly shut-out or detached from current content.”
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