A still from film Never Not Love You. Image Credit: Viva Films

Films from the Philippines will get a wider audience in the Middle East following the launch of a new distributor, Gulf Asia Entertainment, which aims to give theatrical releases to around a dozen Filipino titles per year.

The newly launched distributor plans to achieve the target via an arrangement with Front Row Filmed Entertainment. The first film to be released is Never Not Love You, hitting the screens on April 19.

Gulf Asia is a joint effort of film industry veterans including former executive vice president of 20th Century Fox in the Asia-Pacific Sunder Kimatrai, and Anish Wadhwa, CEO of Home Screen Entertainment, a UAE-based company releasing Indian films in the Middle East.

Also involved are Shravan Shroff, former head of Indian multiplex group Fame, Gianluca Chakra, CEO of Front Row, and CEO of The Philippines Viva Entertainment Vincente Del Rosario Jr.

The company’s launch is intended to capitalise on the recent legalisation and opening up of the theatrical cinema industry in Saudi Arabia and the large Filipino population in the Middle East. These are estimated to number 1.2 million in Saudi Arabia and 800,000 in the UAE.

“The Filipino community is the third largest community in the UAE, but unlike the audience for Indian films, Filipinos residing in the (Gulf) are massive spenders and intensely socially active who regularly attend Filipino events and the occasional film that is released. Our aim is to tap into this market,” said Del Rosario Jr.