Middle East and North Africa distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment has snapped up regional distribution rights for Saudi action picture Route 10, starring rising local talents Fatima AlBanawi and Baraa Alem.
The partners launched the label in early 2021 in response to the growing Saudi demand for feature film content for theatrical release in the wake of the territory’s lifting of its 35-year cinema ban at the end of 2017.
Front Row will also release the title in other MENA territories at the same time.
The film is among a growing body of Saudi feature productions to come to fruition over the last 12 months, as a local film industry begins to take root.
The Saudi box office, which is tipped to top an annual $1B by 2030, has been dominated by Hollywood fare until now but regional professionals believe there is also pent-up demand for local features from the 35m-strong population, some two-thirds of which is under the age of 35.
Directed by Lebanese director Omar Naim, Route 10 was produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and MBC Studios, the production arm of Saudi media and entertainment conglomerate MBC Group.
Actress and filmmaker AlBanawi, who is best known internationally for her role in the pioneering 2016 Saudi romantic comedy Barakah Meets Barakah, and rising star Alem play a Riyadh-based brother and sister who miss their flight to attend their father’s wedding in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
They decide to drive to Abu Dhabi. instead, taking the famous route 10 cutting through the region’s vast Empty Quarter desert. The trip takes an unexpected turn when they are pursued by an angry stranger and end up in a fight for their lives.
The film world premiered at the country’s inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival last December alongside a dozen other new Saudi features.
“We strongly believe in the potential of Saudi talent and are very eager to promote Saudi and Middle east cinema in general to the region and the world,” said Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra.
“Route 10 is a tense, incredibly entertaining film and a very unique proposition to the Saudi market.”
The deal was brokered by Chakra and Front Row distribution and acquisition manager Eli Touma, Image Nation Chief Content Officer Ben Ross and Stewart Till for MBC Studios.