Saudi Arabian exhibition chain Muvi Cinemas has forged a strategic partnership with local digital media studio Telfaz11, under which they will take an undisclosed stake in the expanding Saudi outfit that recently inked an eight-picture deal with Netflix.
The partnership will see the Muvi and Telfaz11 join forces to produce Arabic feature films for theatrical release, as well as other types of collaborations.
Founded by Alaa Yousef Fadan, Ali Al Kalthami, and Ibrahim Al Khairallah, Telfaz11 is an innovative content company that started out in the YouTube space where it has scored billions of views with side-splitting socially engaged videos including their groundbreaking “No Woman, No Drive” video in 2013, which helped create momentum to change laws that previously forbade women from driving motor vehicles in the country.
Muvi Cinemas is Saudi Arabia’s first local cinema chain and currently operates 10 multiplexes in six cities, including a state-of-the-art 18-screener in the port city of Dharan, a major oil industry hub, for a current total of 103 screens. They plan to expand their reach to more than 600 screens in more Saudi cities by 2025.
In a joint statement, the two companies pointed to their synergy as nascent Saudi “movie-industry leaders” to encourage local content creation through a film fund that could finance Telfaz11-produced feature films for release in Saudi theaters. They also said a key component of their partnership will be marketing.
“The companies will collaborate on each other’s social media and digital platforms in a vertical marketing alliance, with Telfaz11 offering Muvi access to its creative marketing services, as well as its network of over 28 million subscribers and followers,” they said.
“We are extremely excited with this strategic partnership with Telfaz11,” Muvi Cinemas CEO Sultan Alhokair said in the statement.
“The need for a strong local-language film market with theatrical window has never been stronger with the annual [Saudi] box office projected to exceed $1 billion annually by 2030,” he added.
Alhokair went on to note that Telfaz11 is well placed to be a local market leader since the Saudi Arabian movie market “is similar to those of France, Italy and Germany,” in that local-language content accounts for a significant share annual box-office revenue.
“Saudi Arabia is making tremendous advancements within the entertainment community, both with what we produce and how we reach audiences,” said Telfaz11 CEO Alaa Fadan. “It has long been our goal to ensure all Saudis get to experience the magic of movies in theaters, and this deal with our friends at Muvi only furthers Telfaz11’s mandate to have a hand in our country’s cultural growth in the film and media business.”
In January, Muvi forged a partnership with Middle East indie film distributor Front Row Film Entertainment to launch distribution and exhibition company Front Row Arabia, which will be releasing English, Arabic, Japanese anime and alternative content across Saudi.