Ashok Amritraj, UAE production house in $250 mn deal

November 3rd, 2008 - 12:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Nov 3 (IANS) Hollywood producer Ashok Amritraj and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) film production house Imagenation Abu Dhabi have entered into a $250 million agreement to develop, produce and distribute feature films.According to the deal, the former Indian tennis player’s Hyde Park Entertainment and the newly set up Imgenation Abu Dhabi will create 20 films over the next seven years with additional financing for producing local language and cross-cultural films. Ashok is the young brother of famous Indian tennis stars Vijay and Anand Amritraj.

“We intend to produce wonderful films that stretch from Hollywood to Asia, enabling us to foster a better understanding between the West, the Middle East and Asia,” Amritraj, the producer of such films as “Bringing Down the House”, “Raising Helen” and “Walking Tall”, said in a statement.

“What better way to accomplish this than through global cinema and the exchange of talent and great stories,” he added.

Hyde Park Entertainment will also set up its regional headquarters at Twofour54, the newly set up free media zone in Abu Dhabi.

Patrick Aiello, executive vice president at Hyde Park’s base in Los Angeles, will supervise creative affairs for the partnership, while Mimi Steinbauer, newly named president of Hyde Park International, will handle foreign sales, according to the statement.

“Through partnerships like this one with Hyde Park, we can create feature films which open a window on Middle Eastern and Asian culture, enabling audiences around the world to look in and appreciate the region’s rich and increasingly dynamic heritage,” Mohamed Khalaf Al-Mazrouei, chairman of Imagenation Abu Dhabi, said.

According to Imagenation chief executive Edward Borgerding, the new partnership will focus on both Western and Asian themes.

“We are also delighted that Hyde Park Entertainment will set up a local office here in Abu Dhabi, which will reinforce the region’s credentials as an emerging centre for content creation and professional development,” he said.

Set up in 1999 by Amritraj after he retired from professional tennis, Hyde Park has produced nine films while two more are under production.

Imagenation Abu Dhabi, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), was launched in September this year and intends to spend in excess of $1 billion over the course of the next five years in the creation of both full length feature films and digital content.

Apart from Hyde Park, it has also entered into a $250 million deal with Los Angeles-based Participant Media to produce 18 films within the next five years.

It has signed a $100 million deal with National Geographic under which National Geographic Entertainment, a division of National Geographic Global Media, and the UAE company will jointly develop, produce, finance and acquire films that focus on people’s relationship to the world, their environment and each other.

The Twofour54 media zone was unveiled by the Abu Dhabi government last month “with the aim of creating a new industry opportunity for the region by providing a collaborative and fully equipped centre that brings together local, regional and international companies ranging from film, broadcast, digital, publishing and music industries”.

Among major international media content creation companies that will reportedly commence operations from there are CNN, BBC, Random House, Harper Collins, Rotana Studios, Financial Times, ADMC, C Sky Pictures and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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