16 Hollywood and Media Deals With Saudi Arabia – And Where They Now Stand

The Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s appeal offensive earlier this 12 months to lure traders and rework his nation’s picture has all however crumbled within the face of the disappearance and seemingly homicide of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

A rising variety of Hollywood and U.S. Media corporations are actually backing out of Business offers with Saudi Arabia and the crown prince, identified by his initials MBS, after Turkish officers concluded that Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi operatives contained in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Here is an inventory of the Hollywood and Media offers with Saudi Arabia – and the place they stand now.

Richard Branson 

British entrepreneur Richard Branson introduced he would freeze ties with the dominion till extra particulars are identified about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“While those investigations are ongoing and Mr. Khashoggi’s whereabouts are not known, I will suspend my directorships of the two tourism projects,” Branson mentioned in an announcement on Oct. 11. “Virgin will also suspend its discussions with the Public Investment Fund over the proposed investment in our space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit.”

The Financial Times reported the Saudi authorities introduced Tuesday it was canceling a deliberate feasibility examine for a high-speed transportation system with the corporate in response to Branson’s assertion. But CNBC experiences that the negotiations are nonetheless underway.

The firm didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The Harbour Group

Leading D.C. lobbying agency representing the Saudi authorities’s pursuits, the Harbour Group, introduced on Oct. 11 it was terminating its $80,000-a-month contract with the dominion.


WME father or mother firm Endeavor, certainly one of Hollywood’s prime expertise businesses, mentioned on Oct. 15 it was making ready to withdraw from its $400 million financing cope with the Saudi Arabian authorities.

An particular person with data of the state of affairs informed TheWrap Monday the corporate is within the strategy of pulling out of its deal, although the logistics haven’t been resolved.

Gerard Butler 

Actor Gerard Butler pulled out of a visit to Saudi Arabia to advertise his new film “Hunter Killer” following  Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Butler was anticipated to reach in Riyadh for interviews with a couple of information retailers earlier than he attended the premiere for the thriller. His consultant informed TheWrap that after he realized about information relating to Khashoggi he determined to forego the journey.

‘Davos in the Desert’

A lot of corporations and people pulled out of the high-powered Future Investment Initiative convention in Riyadh, dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” to be hosted by the Crown Prince and the dominion’s sovereign wealth fund later this month.

The New York Times, Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, the Financial Times and Nikkei withdrew as Media sponsors, as did the proprietor of the Los Angeles Times, Patrick Soon-Shiong. Media government Arianna Huffington, an advisory board member for the convention, The Economist‘s editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes and Viacom CEO Bob Bakish additionally canceled their appearances.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi mentioned Thursday that he was “troubled by the reports” and wouldn’t attend the convention “unless a substantially different set of facts emerges.”

Just hours after Hollywood film financier-turned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pulled out of the convention on Oct. 18, Fox Business Channel, one of many final holdouts, introduced it too was withdrawing as an occasion sponsor.

Meanwhile, Swedish-Swiss expertise firm ABB mentioned it was “carefully monitoring developments” earlier than making any selections.

Steven Mnuchin/Getty


AMC Theaters struck a profitable deal to construct the dominion’s first-ever movie show in April. The firm has plans to open 40 extra theaters within the kingdom inside the subsequent 5 years with the goal to achieve 100 places by 2030.

AMC declined to remark.

Penske Media Corp. 

In February, Penske, which owns Hollywood trades Variety and Deadline amongst different publications, obtained a $200 million funding from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. But the corporate declined to remark about whether or not it’ll reassess the funding.

World Wrestling Entertainment 

WWE, which is because of return to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2 for its “Crown Jewel” wrestling occasion, informed TheWrap in assertion that it’s “currently monitoring the situation.”


In May, IMAX introduced the signing of a multi-theater cope with Vox Cinemas, because the premium screening format deliberate to broaden into Saudi Arabia. But an individual with data of the state of affairs informed TheWrap Sunday that plans to construct extra film theaters within the kingdom, which have been mired in crimson tape, will seemingly be placed on “pause” following Khashoggi’s disappearance.


Vox, a United Arab Emirates-based movie show chain, typically obtained income from wealthy Saudis who traveled to Dubai on weekends whereas KSA’s cinema ban was in impact. They, together with AMC, received the within observe on negotiations to construct cineplexes within the nation and are at present the one two chains with the license from the federal government to take action. Vox has declined to remark.

Feld Entertainment 

Feld Entertainment, a Florida-based dwell touring firm, entered into discussions with the The Saudi General Entertainment Authority earlier this 12 months to carry worldwide occasions, together with “Disney on Ice,” “Disney Live,” “Marvel Experience,” and “Monster Jam” to the dominion.

The firm informed TheWrap Thursday it had not signed any offers with the Saudis however that it was “still in conversation” with the dominion. The firm didn’t want to remark additional.


In March, the Florida-based luxurious movie show chain had introduced it had partnered with Saudi agency BAS Global Investments Co. to develop cinemas and eating places all through the dominion. An iPic rep informed TheWrap Wednesday that it had “no further updates” on the deal.

Nat Geo 

In April, National Geographic introduced it was partnering with the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia to develop and launch a number of places for its “Ocean Odyssey,” a walk-through virtual-reality zoo centered on marine wildlife beginning in 2019.

Reps for Nat Geo Media informed TheWrap they “don’t have an answer yet” on whether or not the partnership will proceed.

Cirque du Soleil One for One

Cirque du Soleil

The iconic dwell leisure model had its first efficiency in Saudi Arabia on Sept. 23, simply earlier than Khashoggi went lacking. The manufacturing was designed solely for Saudi National Day, on the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, for a dwell and televised viewers. It is unclear whether or not the corporate has any extra performances deliberate in Saudi Arabia. Reps for the corporate did no instantly reply to a request for remark.

IMG Artists

The performing arts, social Media, and competition and occasions administration firm, signed a letter of intent to carry large-scale festivals to the dominion.

A rep for IMG informed TheWrap Thursday that the deal went “stale” shortly after it was signed folloing “changes” within the monarchy’s 2030 Vision marketing campaign, the Saudi initiative searching for to make the traditionally closed kingdom much less economically reliant on oil income.

“That slowed us down,” a spokesman mentioned. “Nothing happened after that letter.”

Leave a Comment