Italia Film, the leading Middle Eastern film distributor with close ties to Hollywood, has so far achieved more than two million admissions this year in Saudi Arabia, which it says marks a milestone.
The findings provide further evidence that cinema is booming in the region after its religious ban on cinema was lifted in 2017.
The Beirut based company has long-standing exclusive relationships with major Hollywood studios and independents including Disney, STX Entertainment and Lionsgate. This was the first to obtain a film distribution license in Arabia in 2018 after the 35-year ban. Italy Film announced that it had become the first distributor to cross the two million admissions mark in Arabia on September 26, even as the family business mourns the death earlier this month of its founder Joseph Vincenti.
Italia Film’s best title in Saudi Arabia so far is Disney’s âCruella,â which has grossed $ 9.1 million locally since its release in late May, making Emma Stone star number two in the world. The kingdom’s box office this year after the Egyptian comedy “A Stand Worthy of Men” (Wa’fet Reggala) which grossed $ 15.6 million.
These figures are generated by a total of 404 screens at 42 sites, according to Italia Film.
In 2020, Saudi Arabia was the only country to grow year on year at the box office, which was estimated at $ 120 million. Compared to last year, Saudi admissions in 2021 are up 158% to 9.6 million so far, Italia Film reported.
Italia Film’s other top-grossing releases in the Saudi Arabian market are “Soul”, which in 2021 grossed $ 5.1 million; âFree Guy,â which has made $ 4.5 million to date; âJungle Cruiseâ, which grossed just over $ 4 million; and âBlack Widow,â which made $ 3.8 million.
Vincenti, who died in Beirut on September 7 at the age of 92 from severe pneumonia, launched Italia Film in Lebanon in 1962 and became Disney’s key partner in the Middle East in 1993. It is credited with being the region’s first distributor to expand into the United Arab Emirates, which until recently was the fastest growing box office in the Middle East. , and most recently in Saudi Arabia, which last year became the region’s leading film market.
Over the course of several decades, Vincenti boldly led Italia Film and kept it on the cusp of the growth of the film industry in the Middle East. In addition to launching in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, he also extended Italia Film’s distribution footprint in Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and India.
Vincenti is survived by his wife Marleine, his children Patrizia, Giuliano and Carlo, Managing Director of Italia Film, and his grandchildren, Christina, Sofia, Gabriella and Giuseppe.