The Middle East awaits Russian family comedies

The Dubai International Content Market (DICM 2022), which took place at the end of November in the United Arab Emirates, was successful for the Russian film industry. The results showed that there was strong demand for Russian family films, historical series, and sports dramas as well as a readiness of Middle Eastern partners to co-produce animation.

At the Russian Content Worldwide (RCW) booth organized by ROSKINO, 14 Russian companies presented more than 60 films, series, and animation projects.

Among the key results of the DICM 2022 were negotiations on a remake of the Ms Sweet series in the UAE and the sale of the historical drama The Conquest of Siberia, offers from buyers on the purchase of the family films Red Riding Hood and Chebi: My Fluffy Friend, negotiations on the sale of a documentary film about the problem of plastic waste Invisible Hope to Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia and China; agreements on granting rights to a Russia Television and Radio historical series to be shown in Arabic on YouTube in the UAE; and agreements on co-production with Russian animation companies.


ROSKINO CEO Inna Shalyto said: “Most of our projects presented at the Dubai International Content Market have coincided with the trends in the Middle East’s media industry. For example, “women’s” series currently top the region’s popular VOD platforms, and buyers see the potential of our comedies about strong women. In the UAE, very much attention is paid to environmental issues, and our documentaries on environmental topics are of great interest to content buyers. Interest in co-productions has also increased, especially in the animation segment. The MENA region also appreciates the educational component of Russian animation. In general, the demand for content from Russia is growing, and buyers note its high quality, but for further systemic promotion in the Middle East, more attention should be paid to dubbing. In 2023, the film markets of the MENA region will once again be an important part of ROSKINO’s strategy for foreign markets“.

Key deals and negotiations with Russian companies at DICM 2022

The online cinema START noted that the industry in the MENA region is changing—this year it became clear that the market is more open to experimentation. Light family comedies were in special demand, among the most discussed projects was Ms Sweet, the story of a housewife who turns her hobby into a business and opens her own bakery. As START noted, such projects resonate with the region and buyers see potential in them. On one of the largest streaming platforms in MENA, a series in which a woman opens her own barbershop was the second most popular over the past few months. Negotiations are underway on a remake of Ms Sweet in the UAE. The distributors were also interested in the project The Conquest of Siberia. The finished eight-episode drama impressed buyers not only with the storyline, but also with the quality and scale of production. Licensing deals are being negotiated.

DICM 2022 was also productive for All Media (a START company). In two days, the company held meetings with buyers from MENA, India, and other countries. The buyers were interested in family films such as the films Red Riding Hood and Chebi: My Fluffy Friend. The company has already received several proposals for cooperation and continues negotiations.

The official distributor of Russia Television and Radio content, Sovtelexport, has reached an agreement on the rights to a line of historical series to be shown in Arabic on YouTube in the UAE. A distribution company from Sri Lanka plans to license a selection of the best Russian TV series to be shown in the country. A company from Morocco is considering melodramas and family dramas from Russia Television and Radio. The largest holding ientv from Saudi Arabia, which includes 23 educational channels, intends to purchase an extensive package of documentaries. Thrillers and action titles from the company’s catalog attracted the attention of Indian distributors. The Indian media conglomerate ZEE Entertainment, was interested in multi-part family-themed melodramas and feature films. Representatives of Sovetelexport also noted the general interest in documentaries about culture, nature, and science.

Odin-Media, one of the largest producers of documentary content, is actively discussing the sale of a number of films. Negotiations on the Invisible Hope project are underway with Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China and the film The Great North Way is being discussed with the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Morocco. Odin-Media is also discussing the sale of the film Depth Hunters to the entire territory of the Middle East, including Israel.

Pimanov & Partners film company noted the interest of representatives of India, Turkey, Spain, France, the US, and the UAE in the sports drama Eleven Silent Men, released in February 2022, as well as in the various feature series. There was also active interest in the company’s documentary projects. The Spanish company, Final Frontier, and the Turkish company, Pixitoon, have proposed animation projects for co-production, and negotiations are underway with the Australian company, Melodia, and Haymillian from the UK to collaborate on content production.

NTV Broadcasting Company noted the attention of international buyers at DICM 2022 in the sports drama Kamaz. Extreme Racing, the historical detective Noble Detective, the action-packed melodrama Dr. Driver, and the adventure series about the rescue team Five Minutes of Silence. The company negotiated with representatives of Turkey, India, and the Persian Gulf countries.

Russkoe film company noted interest in multi-part projects (more than 30 episodes), although shorter formats (10-16 episodes), such as, the company’s new series, The Cruel World of Men, also have the chance to get onto platforms in the MENA region. At DICM 2022, company representatives held meetings with representatives of Arab and African countries, as well as Turkey.

The production company SREDA held negotiations with companies from the UAE, Hungary, Kazakhstan and other countries. The buyers were interested in the detective drama Freeze, the crime drama Chimera and the action-packed series The Negotiator.

Online cinema KION presented the large-scale historical drama Union of Salvation. The Age of Wrath about the Decembrist uprising of 1825, the comedy drama The Kidney, and the family comedy Ivan Semyonov – School Trouble Maker!. The company noted the interest in all these projects of content buyers from the MENA region.

For Russian animation producers, DICM 2022 was very productive. SMF Animation held a number of meetings with the main players in the MENA region and India — representatives of the largest TV channels, independent distributors who purchase content for the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. The greatest interest was in the animated series Monsikids, I’ll get you!, The Secrets of Honey Hills, as well as the animated feature film Detective Chirp & the Golden Beehive. International representatives appreciated the quality of the content offered, the educational component, and the promotion of traditional family values in the SMF Animation projects.

Parovoz animation studio met with representatives of companies from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, Korea, India, Iran and Morocco: TOONZ Media Networks, Noor Play, Al Majd TV Network, Lichi Studios, Al Ghadeer Satellite Channel and others. There were three buyers of content from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and India. As a result of the negotiations, agreements were reached on the possibility of co-production; the parties are currently exchanging materials in order to find suitable projects.

Riki Group held meetings with representatives of companies from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, Turkey, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. The main headliners of the company were three projects: Beardy Bodo, Tina and Tony, and Babyriki. The new project Beardy Bodo was well received by the buyers.

X-Media Digital presented the animated series Princess play time, Magic Pik and Cars, Cars in Dubai. The projects attracted interest from TV channels of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kazakhstan, mobile operators in the MENA region and Indian distributors. Preliminary talks were held within the market.

Digital Television Russia noted that the projects Fantasy Patrol and Puppies & Kittens aroused the greatest interest. Possible conditions are now being discussed and the company plans to contract several projects in the near future. As part of the market in Dubai, representatives of Digital Television met with potential partners from the MENA region, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey and other countries — TV channels and various digital platforms, as well as dubbing studios, technical service companies, and music libraries. *

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