Middle East distributor Front Row has hired former Disney executive Nicolas Torloting as COO. Torloting will oversee all day-to-day operations at the firm with President Hisham Al Ghanim and CEO Gianluca Chakra continuing to oversee all local and international acquisitions.

Frenchman Torloting served 15 years at The Walt Disney Company occupying roles in finance, business development and strategy before taking on a Paris-based Senior Manager role for EMEA markets where he oversaw Disney’s licensed partners for the MENA region, Greece, Israel and Turkey.

In 1999 he joined Saudi entity Disney Jawa Enterprise, a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and the Saudi Jawa family. There he served as Managing Director of Entertainment, running offices in Saudi Arabia, UAE and the rest of the Middle East. In 2012 he joined Vanity Fair Brands (VFP), where he served as CEO.

Front Row, which is looking to increase its development and production footprint, recently hired Eli Touma as Marketing and Acquisitions Director. Touma previously headed the Digital & Publicity divisions for Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox MENA distributor Empire International. Also hired was Micallar Walker-Smith who previously served as Head of Events at Picturehouse in the UK.

“I’ve known Gianluca and Hisham for more than 15 years and saw their growth throughout, building an impressive set up making Front Row the most innovative and successful film distribution company in the Middle East. They’ve pioneered the VOD phenomenon, the aggregation deals with Apple and Google and worldwide sales to global platforms of local language products,” stated Torloting. “With the opening of the Saudi market into the theatrical world and the quick and continuous market shifts, I believe that the MENA theatrical, TV and VOD markets will expand strongly in the upcoming years. Front Row, with its innovative culture will play a key role in taking the lead in this evolution.”

Chakra said, “Nicolas’s experience and wealth of knowledge especially in markets like Saudi will be key in expanding into that territory. We have already started acquiring IPs for local remakes, be it for television or feature films. A number of projects are currently in development stage including the Arabic language remake of the Italian smash hit Perfect Strangers as well as a couple of high concept international features which will be announced later on this year.”

Al Ghanim concluded, “We’ve financed a slate of high profile local language titles most of which will be released theatrically throughout 2019. We’ll keep on fortifying our relationships with regional players. Also, In view of the launch of multiple global platforms, our aim is to focus on developing Arabic feature films and TV Series which will resonate both locally and internationally. Our roadmap is clear, Nicolas will focus on enhancing Front Row’s organization in order to keep leading the market changes whilst Gianluca and myself will expand the local production projects and develop an ambitious acquisition plan of international and Arabic language content.”