2018. In view of the MENA market expansion, industry veterans SUNDER KIMATRAI (formerly EVP Asia Pacific at Twentieth Century Fox International), ANISH WADHWA (CEO of Home Screen Entertainment), SHRAVAN SHROFF (Entrepreneur and former MD of Fame India Ltd, one of India’s Largest Multiplex companies), GIANLUCA CHAKRA (CEO of Front Row Filmed Entertainment) and Filipino media mogul VICENTE DEL ROSARIO JR (CEO of Viva Entertainment) have founded GULF ASIAENTERTAINMENT, a film distribution company whose objective, at the outset, is to elevate the presence and profile of the Filipino and South East Asian entertainment industry in the Middle East.
Through Front Row Filmed Entertainment, the company will release between 10-12 theatrical Filipino titles a year starting off with romantic drama ‘NEVER NOT LOVE YOU” with Nadine Lustre and James Reid on the 19th of April which grossed US$ 500,000 in its first 4 days of release in the Philippines last Wednesday and is eying a total box office of US$ 2 mil.
After the US, the Filipino diaspora in the Middle East is the second largest in the world with a population of over 2.5 Mil with 1.2 mil in Saudi Arabia followed by the UAE with a little over 800,000. The Filipinos in the MENA are also the 2nd largest source of remittances to the Philippines.
“The Filipino community is the 3rd largest community in the UAE, but unlike the audience for Indian films of various languages, Filipinos residing in the GCC are massive spenders and intensely socially active who regularly attend Filipino events and the occasional film that is released. Our aim is to tap into this market and expand by releasing Pinoy films on a day-and-date basis with the Philippines across major cinemas in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as on VOD and on Digital and soon enough, bring in live events and concerts” says media mogul Vicente Del Rosario Jr.; Sunder Kimatrai adds: “The UAE market isn’t the only market we are eyeing. There are over 1.2 mil Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and another 500,000 across Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. There is a real market waiting to be developed… and with the MENA expansion and the introduction of Cinemas in Saudi, we see this becoming a real opportunity.”
Gianluca Chakra concludes: “While we cover Western and Arab film distribution, Asian and specifically Filipino content is indeed a natural progression. With the partners in place, this could only prove to a significantly interesting move in satisfying a vast audience that has never been properly served in region”.
On the 31st of May the company will be releasing “SID & AYA”, a romantic Love Story starring Anne Curtis and Ding Dong Dantes.
About SUNDER KIMATRAI:
Sunder Kimatrai is one of the most experienced film distribution executives in the world. He spent over two decades at Twentieth Century Fox International working in multiple territories including over a decade as the Sydney-based supervisor for Asia Pacific film distribution. He is a well-known industry figure and was awarded Cineasia’s Exhibitor of the year in 2009. Since his departure from Fox in 2017 he has been working on a number of projects connected with the entertainment industry. Gulf Asia Entertainment is the first of these to be announced publicly. Sunder Kimatrai is a 1992 graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
About VICENTE DEL ROSARIO JR:
Mr.Vicente Del Rosario, Jr. is the Chairman and CEO of the Viva group of companies. With over 50 years in the entertainment industry, he continues to be an influential leader and star maker through synergized efforts of the various business units of Viva.Boss Vic, as he is fondly called in the industry, co- founded Vicor Music more than 50 years ago and went on to dominate the recording business in the 70’s and early 80’s amassing the biggest music library in the Philippines. Boss Vic actually coined the term Original Pilipino Music or OPM. Boss Vic also spearheaded breakthroughs in the protection of intellectual property rights and music licensing. He professionalized songwriting by introducing music publishing and payment of royalties.In 1981, Boss Vic decided to put up Viva Films (later on became Viva Communications, Inc.) and went into film production— launching the careers of many box office stars such as Sharon Cuneta, Regine Velasquez, Sarah Geronimo, Anne Curtis, James Reid and Nadine
Lustre. Film production expanded into TV and other platforms over the years and is now one of the biggest media companies in the Philippines. Viva owns the most extensive music, film and TV library in the Philippines. While its core business is in content production and artist management, Viva’s various business interests extend to vertically and horizontally integrated entities such as live concerts, events, music and book publishing, locally owned pay TV and foreign pay TV channel distribution, out of home media, digital media, radio and food.
About SHRAVAN SHROFF:
Mr. Shravan Shroff is the Co-Founder of India’s first angel-backed accelerator, VentureNursery, which undertakes coaching and mentoring in chosen start-ups, helping with end-to-end infrastructure, learning and finance. Mr. Shroff serves as a Managing Partner of South Yarra Holdings, which looks at investments in various sectors. He has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of DXB Entertainments PJSC since June 23, 2016. He started with one Fame multiplex in Mumbai and later rolled out a chain of 25 multiplexes across India, which were sold to Inox Leisure in 2011. He is also an active member of the Indian Angel Network, with 20+ personal angel and start-up investments. He is an active member of the Mumbai chapter of the Young President Organization, a US-based non-profit organization: was Chapter Chair (Bombay Chapter) from 2014 to 2015; and served on the Censor Board of India from 2009 to 2011. He was awarded the 2010 Alumni Excellence Commendation for Media and
Entertainment from the Australian High Commissioner to India. Mr. Shroff holds a graduate degree from Mumbai University and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Melbourne Business School.
About GIANLUCA CHAKRA:
Gianluca Chakra is the founder of independent film distribution powerhouse Front Row Filmed Entertainment whom he heads and acquires for all titles for the Middle East and North Africa on an all rights basis. He is considered a pioneer in bringing in independent cinema across the Middle East and was key in developing the VOD business in the region by striking deals with iTunes and GooglePlay having Front Row become their sole preferred aggregator in the MENA accompanied lately by Netflix. Gianluca Chakra has also introduced the premium VOD Window across the MENA for all transactional services and has partnered up with Global SVOD Platform iFlix in coproducing and launching the first Original All star Arab Speaking series ‘Tough Luck”. He currently acquires between 90-120 titles a year through Front Row Filmed Entertainment. Previously he has worked as a programmer of the Rome Film festival; Acquisitions executive at Prime Pictures and Cederland Film Company as an acquisitions executive at Prime Pictures. He also co-wrote and presented the Award Winning show ‘Adrenaline” for Lebanese TV Network Future Television. Mr.Chakra is also part of the UAE Academy Award commission. Gianluca Chakra holds a BA degree in Advertising and Marketing from Notre Dame University (Lebanon)
About ANISH WADHWA:
Anish is the founder and CEO of Home Screen Entertainment is an entertainment company based in UAE, with a focus on the distribution of South Indian films internationally. Currently, the company owns the rights of over 500 Tamil & Malayalam films for overseas digital distribution. In addition to digital distribution, Home Screen Entertainment also holds theatrical rights of several South Indian films. Mr. Anish is an ex partner of AP International, a company that has financed over 1000 films, distributed more than 700 films and directly owns the copyright to over 500 films located in Chennai. He began his career as an executive in Customer Experience and Film Distribution at SPI Cinemas, a leading player in the entertainment industry offering services such as exhibition, distribution and production in South India. He holds a graduate degree from Loyola College, Chennai & a Masters in Business (Finance & Accounting) from Warwick Business School.
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