Will Smith and his Overbrook Entertainment partners James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz have teamed with Diana Jenkins of D Media to launch Red Pearl Pictures, which will distribute Western films throughout the Middle East.
The new company will have offices in both Los Angeles and the Middle East, and is currently looking for a chief executive, reports Variety. CAA is advising the startup.
The goal of the venture is to tap into the growing demand for entertainment in such Middle Eastern markets as Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Overbrook has already shown global entrepreneurial ambitions, as the company made a deal with Ronnie Screwvala, chief of India’s UTV, and Sony to produce films meant to play in the Indian marketplace.
Red Pearl Pictures joins a number of key Mideastern distributors that have existing deals with the U.S. studios and independent companies.
While the Arab world boasts a population of some 300 million — more than two-thirds of whom are under the age of 30 and eager for commercial entertainment — censorship, piracy and underdeveloped infrastructure have so far hampered efforts by distributors and exhibitors to maximize the region’s true box office potential, Variety notes.
Smith’s Hancock, for example, grossed approximately $3 million in the Arab world, a good-sized draw, but small compared to other offshore territories.