In less than three years, Front Row established itself as the leading independent film distributor starting with critically acclaimed and thought provoking titles such as Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, Infernal Affairs, Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, Bloody Sunday and Kandahar among many others. Through innovative marketing strategies, the company has created a market for these films in the Middle East that previously did not exist and built its reputation on that.How to customize formatting for each rich text.
The young company’s first biggest success then was the distribution of Fahrenheit 9/11 which was the first documentary ever to be released theatrically in the Middle East. Despite considerable initial resistance from local exhibitors, the title broke into the top 20 list of 2004. The same year, Front Row serviced Warner Bros Pictures in the Gulf Region for three years releasing titles such as Syriana, Harry Potter, Superman Returns, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Poseidon, V For Vendetta, The Lake House, Lady In The Water and many others.
Throughout these years, Front Row has established strong legs striking deals with top notch Hollywood studios including Hammer Films, Exclusive Media Group, Bloom Entertainment, Embankment Films, Studio Ghibli.HanWay Films, Wild Bunch, Cinema Management Group, Film 4, Vertigo Films among others, most of which secured either output deals or first look deals. Occasionally, acquire titles from other licensors too such as Entertainment One, TF1 International, Pathe International, Studio Canal, Dream Catchers, Rai Trade, Highland Film Group, 6 Sales, ART and has major ties with film producers such as Guy East, Nigel Sinclair, Marc Shipper among others.
In 2005, Front Row struck a long term strategic alliance and partnership with leading tycoon Kuwait National Cinema Company securing ever expanding business on the exhibition side in the Middle East. KNCC has been in the theatrical exhibition business since 1954 and currently controls 94% of the screens in Kuwait. In 2004, local area estate powerhouse Tamdeen Holdings acquired a controlling stake in KNCC prepare for expansion into other Middle Eastern Territories. From its first roofless theater more than 55 years ago, Cinescape has risen to a technological leader in exhibition globally; The Company is one of the first to have introduced a payment system for theater tickets using mobile phones and online ticketing as well as 24 hour costumer service.
For Front Row, KNCC is a potent partner not only in the quickly growing Kuwaiti market but also in the other Middle Eastern territories. Competing distributors which control theaters in other regions of the Middle East are still required to use KNCC’s Screen in Kuwait which currently represent 36 % of the Middle Eastern movie business. This has begun to create a much needed balance and has already limited anti-competitive behavior. With the Kuwait National Cinema Company on board, Front Row has become the largest theatrical distributor of Arabic content in the Gulf Region representing almost 75% of Egyptian production, which, obviously, helped create a much needed balance in terms of not only distribution but also exhibition.
In 2007, Front Row has entered into a partnership with Fierce Entertainment in producing "Faces In The Crowd" starring Milla Jovovich which was eventually sold to Gulf Film for Middle East distribution while its international sales where held by Voltage Pictures. This same year, the company had acquired and released RUSH HOUR 3 which became the biggest Independent film to be released that year.
In 2011, Front Row became a pioneer on Video On Demand and vitally contributed to the creation of a new window in the Middle East called PREMIUM VOD releasing titles only weeks after their theatrical release or simple premiering these. This constituted a change in the market and in 2012, Front Row became the only independent film company to beat a major Studio such as Universal on the DU/Vobiquity platform in the UAE. In collaboration with OSN, Front Row also created a new day-and-date window for the territory of Saudi Arabia offering Saudi viewers the chance to watch theatrical titles directly in their homes at a premium price.
This same year, Front Row acquires and releases the Lebanese film “Where Do We Go Now” directed by Nadine Labaki and achieves ground breaking results in Lebanon making this the #3 all time box office earner only preceded by James Cameron’s “Avatar” and James Cameron’s “Titanic”. It is considered the highest grossing Arabic Speaking Film to date, only outside of Egypt.
In 2012, Front Row released 39 theatrical titles while in 2013 the theatrical releases went up to 45. The company, currently acquires between 90-120 titles on a yearly basis most of which, are regularly commercialized throughout the region covering all rights. The same year, Lebanon based distributors Teleview and Phoenicia Films have joined forces in having their product distributed in the Gulf Region by Front Row. In a little over 10 years, Front Row has managed to acquire over 870 titles.
In 2013, Front Row joint ventured with Real Image Media Technologies, The Kuwait National Cinema Company and Golden Cinemas Dubai in creating REEL IMAGE MIDDLE EAST, a state of the art digital lab offering digital and post production services for the region as well as Internationally.
In June 2014, Front Row and iTunes/Apple Inc. have entered into an agreement becoming the sole official iTunes Aggregator for the Middle East whose main responsibility is to feed the iTunes platform with Independent, Bollywood and Arabic content for the Middle East region with a possibility to use its platform for worldwide distribution. iTunes will be the first platform in the Middle East to offer Transactional Digital Video On Demand throughout 9 territories in the Middle East (including Saudi Arabia) simultaneously. Apple Inc currently holds 800,000,000 iTunes members worldwide.
Front Row’s latest releases include smash hits in the likes of Ron Howard’s RUSH, SNITCH, THE WOMAN IN BLACK, Ahmad Helmy’s X-LARGE, Ahmad Helmy’s ALAA GOSSETY, DIANA, THE QUIET ONES, THE IDES OF MARCH, STREET DANCE, STREET DANCE 2, END OF WATCH, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS among others. Future releases include BEGIN AGAIN (With Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley and Adam Levine), A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens), THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGELS OF DEATH (Jeremy Irvine, Helen McRory), JANE GOT A GUN (Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor and Joel Edgerton), DARK PLACES (Charlize Theron, Choe Grace Moretz, Nicholas Huolt), PELE: THE MOVIE (Produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer), THE DRESSMAKER (Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth and Isla Fisher), KIDNAPPING FREDDIE HEINEKEN (Anthony Hopkins, Sam Worthington, Jim Sturgess) and the remake of BLOODSPORT (Jake Gyllenhall, Jason Statham and Sylvester Stallone) to name a few.