Copyright 2001

[ November 21st 2001 ]

The general political and social climate in much of the Middle East is in turmoil, which hardly seems conducive to well-being and prosperity, let alone movie-going. Yet according to a report in todays Variety Magazine, cinema attendance has held up remarkably well in the region's larger markets, including Lebanon, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, since the events of Sept. 11.

The Middle East, including Turkey and Israel, generates about 2% of the majors' overseas theatrical revenues. The most active new market in the Middle East, the UAE has seen considerable investment in new screens by local operators and foreign exhibs, including Australia's Greater Union and Ster Century. Hollywood movies are extremely popular, exemplified by "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," which generated $506,000, and "Jurassic Park III" which netted just over $339,000.

"There has been a fourfold increase in revenue from the UAE in the past two years," says one distrib. "There is a large Afghan and Pakistani population in Dubai, but cinemagoing is relatively upscale. The new multiplexes are in fairly fierce competition for sections of the population that can afford to go to the cinema."

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