Disney to make Arab movies

Walt Disney Pictures, which already produces movies in France, China and India (at least) in addition to their regular roster of American pics, is now eyeing the Arabian peninsula and is in talks to finance The Last Of The Storytellers from Lebanese director Chadi Zeneddine (Falling From Earth), which would mark their first film in Arabic and will likely start filming by the end of next year.

Disney has big plans for the Middle East. The Arab world has a population of some 300 million people, and with two-thirds under age 30, the market is a natural for family-friendly Disney fare. Disney expects to announce two more Arabic-language features in time for the fifth edition of the Dubai Film Festival, which unspools in December.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for us in the Middle East,” said a Disney exec, who insisted on anonymity. “There’s a lot of room for growth for us. It’s the international territory that we’re most excited about expanding into.”

Disney’s arabian move is expected to be followed by other American studios, such as 20th Century-Fox. I can already repeat what I said following Disney’s recent announcement of big Indian plans: I’m really glad American studios are finally seeing the importance of international markets, but I wish they’d use their power to distribute the films they produce in other countries worldwide.

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Exclusive New Trailer and Poster: Roadside Romeo (also Disney’s plans for India)

I apologize for the sometimes hard-to-read subtitles, but it’s from the official website! Roadside Romeo marks Walt Disney Pictures’ first venture into Indian cinema, in co-production with Yash Raj Films, one of the biggest local studios.

Disney must have confidence in the Indian market as, in addition to two more animated features with Yash Raj Films, they’ve begun planning four live-action films on their own, the first two of which are just about ready to begin production.

‘The 19th Step’ starring top South Indian actor Kamal Hassan, directed by Bharat Bala […] will feature Japanese star Asano Tadanabo and Indian actress Asin. Director Bala is one of India’s best-known music video directors. “Step” is said to revolve around the ancient Indian martial arts form Kalarippayattu and will be a multilingual Indian release.

‘Zokkomon,’ starring top child actor Darsheel Safari and directed by Satyajit Bhatkal, is a children’s tale.

As for Roadside Romeo, which opens October 24th, it is written and directed by newcomer Jugal Hansraj, stars the voice talents of Indian stars Saif Ali Khan (Dil Chahta Hai/Do Your Thing), Kareena Kapoor (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…/Happiness & Tears) and Javed Jaffrey (Fire). The film follows a pampered dog who is abandoned by his owner and learns to survive in the streets of Mumbai.

I’m all for American studios producing movies out of the US. Disney is already doing it in China and France, Columbia in India and China, and Warner Bros in France, India and Italy (and those are only the ones I know about). But why stop there? Why not release the movies you make in those movies internationally? Seems like it could only be a win situation wouldn’t it?

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Disney announcements galore

The Walt Disney Company had a big presentation a couple of days ago where they announced a bunch of new movies, including three starring Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street). These are a new adaptation of The Lone Ranger written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio (National Treasure: Book Of Secrets) where Depp will play Tonto and George Clooney (Burn After Reading) might play the titular character, a new part live-action/part CGI adaptation of Alice In Wonderland written by Linda Woolverton (Mulan) and directed by frequent collaborator Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd…) so yeah obviously, and as expected, a fourth Pirates Of The Caribbean film.

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It was also announced that Cars 2 would be released in 2011 instead of 2012 and that the story will have Mater joining Lightning McQueen on a world tour. Additionally several short films entitled Car-toons will be set between the two films and will air on the Disney Channel and perhaps before some theatrical films. Thus, the Disney/Pixar film originally planned for 2011, Newt, will instead be released in 2012.

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Yet another Disney flick for The Rock?

After The Game Plan and the forthcoming Race To Witch Mountain, former wrestler Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock may star in a third Disney film, Tomorrowland, based on the eponymous “world” found in Disney theme parks (known in Disneyland Paris as Discoveryland), and particularly on the famous Space Mountain ride. Screenwriting duo Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (Rebound) will pen the script.

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Movie Of The Day: Invincible (2006)

In 1993, Walt Disney Pictures released Cool Runnings, a film chronicling the true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team competing at the 1988 Winter Olympics. The film was huge hit, and even though nothing came out of it immediately, it was a foreshadowing of things to come. Indeed, when the studio’s Remember The Titans, an american football film also based on a true story came out seven years later and made more box-office gold, Disney understood they had a foolproof formula in their hands, releasing no less than five inspirational sports movies based on true stories in five years, Invincible being the last so far.

Set in 1976 as new coach Dick Vermeil takes over the crappy Philadelphia Eagles football team, Invicible relates the tale of Vince Papale, a 30 year old bartender/part-time teacher who went on to play for the Eagles through three NFL seasons after his wife left him, despite having no college football experience.

Invincible marks the first feature directing effort for cinematographer Ericson Core (Daredevil) and the first produced script by Brad Gann (Black Irish). The film stars Mark Wahlberg (The Happening), Greg Kinnear (Baby Mama), Elizabeth Banks (Meet Dave) and Michael Nouri (The O.C.) among others. Trailer and review after the jump.

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