I’ve learned that the Abu Dhabi-based film financier is talking to European producers in France and Germany about investing in projects. This may turn into a longer-term joint venture, like the ones Imagenation has already sealed with Hollywood producers including Parkes/Macdonald and Participant. It’s puzzled me as to why this Arab financier has not done any deals with European companies yet. It’s announced $600 million worth of joint ventures with Hollywood, yet European film companies such as Constantin of Germany or Italian producer Cattleya have their own studio links. Europe is closer to the Gulf than Los Angeles, and, it has to be said, a lot closer in terms of mindset. Stefan Brunner, COO of Imagenation, tells me that he’s also been talking to producers in Asia. “Just because we haven’t done anything outside of Hollywood so far, doesn’t mean we won’t in future,” he says.
Hyde Park Entertainment has just wrapped its first project to go through its $250 million Imagenation deal. The Double, starring Richard Gere, Topher Grace and Stana Katic, has been shooting in Detroit, Michigan. The project has already pre-sold to Germany, Spain and Russia among others. Hyde Park tells me it hopes to shoot 4-5 projects a year through Imagenation, including Echelon, based on the bestselling action thriller by Brit ex-soldier Andy McNab; its long-gestating The Persuaders; and serial killer project Killer with Parkes/Macdonald.
Imagenation starts shooting its first local production, coming of age story Sea Shadow, at the end of October. The director is Emirati filmmaker Nawaf Al-Janahi. Its second local project, horror film Djinn, should go into production in April 2011. Brunner hopes that a horror movie like Djinn will change the way Arab movies are perceived internationally. “If we make commercial enough movies, then we’ll be building a sustainable industry in Abu Dhabi,” he tells me.