Front Row Filmed Entertainment LLC was launched in December 2003 by Gianluca Chakra under the aegis of his father Michel.
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.
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 long terms deals with top notch Hollywood studios and independent film studios as well as top notch producers. These include Voltage Pictures, Neon, A24, Bloom Media, Wild Bunch, Embankment Films, Metro Films, HanWay Films, Protagonist Pictures, Hammer Films, Studio Ghibli, Cinema Management Group, Studio Canal, Film Four, Fox Searchlight among many 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, 2014, 2015 and 2016 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 International 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 1050 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 July 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. Because of this deal, ROTANA MEDIA, the leading Arab production power house owned by Prince Waleed Bin Talal , has signed on an exclusive worldwide aggregation deal with Front Row whose primary function would be introducing Arab Cinema across the world via digital platforms. Rotana Media currently has a library of over 1,500 titles including evergreens dated back to the 1940s! http://variety.com/2014/digital/global/itunes-seals-deal-with-middle-east-distributor-front-row-1201297572/
In 2015, Front Row Filmed Entertainment signs an industry game-changing 5 year PAY TV output deal with media giant '‘BEIN MEDIA” becoming officially one of the largest independent suppliers to the network. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/qatars-bein-strikes-deal-middle-841795
In February 2016, Front Row signs an exclusive aggregation deal with GooglePlay and YouTube reflecting the same deal terms of iTunes.
May 2016, Front Row signs a worldwide deal with NETFLIX on the Lebanese acclaimed film “VERY BIG SHOT” resulting as the first Arab Film ever available in over 190 countries subtitled in over 20 languages.
On the 12th of October 2016, Front Row’s Managing Partner GIANLUCA CHAKRA and THORSTEN SHUMACHER launch ROCKET SCIENCE Ltd. in the UK, an International Sales, Production and Financing company headed by Thorsten Shumacher. The first film market will take place at the American Film Market 2016 this coming November 2. http://variety.com/2016/film/global/former-hanway-chief-thorsten-schumacher-rocket-science-1201886666/
In December 2016, Front Row Filmed Entertainment signs an aggregation deal with NETFLIX for the Middle East and Worldwide.
The upcoming releases include the 2Pac Shakur biopic ALL EYEZ ON ME (Demtrius Shipp Jr.), COLOSSAL (Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens); A FAMILY MAN (Gerard Butler, Alison Brie, Willem Dafoe), THE TRAINER (Liam Neeson), THE OLD MAN & THE GUN (Casey Affleck, Robert Redford), the Judd Apatow produced JULIET NAKED (Ethan Hawke, Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd), the thriller KINGS (Daniel Craig, Halle Berry), BREATHE (Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy), WIND RIVER (Jeremy Renner, Jon Bernthal, Elizabeth Olsen), FREE FIRE (Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer), THEIR FINEST (Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy), UNDER THE SILVER LAKE (Dakota Johnson, Andrew Garfield), YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (Joaquin Phoenix), CHURCHILL (Brian Cox), CITY OF TINY LIGHTS (Riz Ahmed) among many many others.
Front Row’s releases include smash hits in the likes of Oliver Stone’s SNOWDEN (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage), BLOOD FATHER (Mel Gibson, William H. Macy), 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, 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 Therlon, Choe Grace Moretz, Nicholas Huolt), PELE: THE MOVIE (Produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer), THE DRESSMAKER (Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth), THE QUEEN (Helen Mirren) and others… To view Front Row Filmed Entertainment’s full catalogue pls. click on the following IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/company/co0283563/?ref_=fn_al_co_1 or IMDB Pro’s link which will include also titles “in-development” https://pro-labs.imdb.com/company/co0283563/?ref_=sch_int