Image Nation has separated its U.S. business from its local filmmaking activity. Michael Garin, who was appointed CEO in February, will continue to be overall head of Image Nation, while running overseas business Image Nation International. Its American partners include Participant Media, Hyde Park Entertainment, Parkes/Macdonald and Warner Bros. Former UAE ambassador Mohammed Al Otaiba has been appointed head of newly formed Image Nation Abu Dhabi, which has produced two local movies so far: Sea Shadow and Djinn, directed by Tobe Hooper. Garin told me recently that he has spent time restructuring deals originally signed by his predecessor Ed Borgerding, trying to give Image Nation more of a say over what gets greenlighted. He has restructured Image Nation’s deal with National Geographic Films in particular. “Before I arrived, the strategy was much more passive,” he told me. “The partnerships have changed significantly. Before I arrived Participant and National Geographic were structured in a way that gave us little or no control over projects. Those are not structures I would have entered into on that basis.” Garin said that after hundreds of millions of dollars invested, Image Nation’s international exposure is close to zero. Through its Participant tie-up, Image Nation has co-produced two movies currently in strong spots at the U.S. box office: The Help, which spent 25 days at No. 1, and Contagion, which has grossed nearly $68 million in less than a month at theaters. That should help ease the pain of movies that Garin admits the Abu Dhabi fund took a bath on, including Peter Weir’s The Way Back and Robert Rodriguez’s Shorts.
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