Abu Dhabi Going Hollywood


Whip out the red carpet for Big Oil: Abu Dhabi is heading to Tinseltown. Wednesday the Emirate announced big plans to invest $1 billion in movies and new media. An arm of the Abu Dhabi government, the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) created a subsidiary called "image nation abu dhabi" (they used all lower case in their press release) which aims to spend that cool billion over a five year period.

Abu Dhabi has a three part media plan, strategized by CEO of ADMC, Edward Borgerding, a former Disney executive. First, 'imagination' will partner with a couple of independent Hollywood production houses, financing as many as eight films a year, to be distributed through the usual studios. It'll have those production companies, which it'll announce on Monday or Tuesday from the Toronto film festival, set up offices in Abu Dhabi, which will have a number of benefits, one of which will be encouraging them to consider shooting in the Arab nation.

Second, it'll make movies in Abu Dhabi targeting Arab markets; what Americans think of as foreign films that have the potential to cross over to the U.S. And third, the company will produce original content for the web, looking to cash in on this transition to digital distribution.

This investment follows a $1 billion deal Abu Dhabi Media made last September with Warner Bros. to finance both movies and video games. And this seems to fall into a trend of foreign financing flooding into Hollywood studios, filling the void left by the hedge fund industry as they've pulled their financing out. India's Reliance Capital is in talks with Steven Spielberg to put together a $1 billion in financing deal.

And Abu Dhabi and India aren't just looking to turn a profit, they're also looking to raise their profiles and build up their piece of an increasingly global entertainment industry. Having production houses set up offices in Abu Dhabi allows the best of the best train a new generation of Emirates filmmakers, building up the nation's own Abu DhabiWood.