New Middle East Distributor Launches to Capitalize on Regional Demand for South-Asian Films

Never Not Love You - Still H - 2018
Credit: Supplied

1.2 million Filipinos reside in Saudi Arabia, which is now opening up its cinema market.

A consortium of industry veterans from across the Gulf and Asia have come together to establish a new film distributor set to focus on Filipino and Southeast Asian fare in the Middle East. 

Gulf Asia Entertainment, announced Wednesday, comes from Sunder Kimatrai (formerly executive vp Asia Pacific at Twentieth Century Fox International), Shravan Shroff (former managing director of Fame India Ltd., one of India’s largest cinema chains), Gianluca Chakra (CEO of Front Row Filmed Entertainment) and Filipino media mogul Vicente Del Rosario (CEO of Viva Entertainment), and aims to capitalize on the huge number of South Asians living in the region. 

After the U.S., the Filipino diaspora in the Middle East is the second largest in the world, with a population of more than 2.5 million, including 1.2 million in Saudi Arabia and just over 800,000 in the United Arab Emirates. 

Through Front Row Film Entertainment, Gulf Asia Entertainment aims to release 10-12 Filipino titles each year, starting on April 19 with romantic drama Never Not Love You, which grossed $500,000 in its first four days in the Philippines earlier this month. 

“While we cover Western and Arab film distribution, Asian and specifically Filipino content is indeed a natural progression," said Chakra. "With the partners in place, this could only prove to [be] a significantly interesting move in satisfying a vast audience that has never been properly served in region."