From Abu Dhabi we hear news of the cash float Hollywood has been waiting for: a $1 billion filmmaking fund, financed by the tiny, cash-rich emirate.
This is government money, (I feel the need to repeat this: Government. Money.) earmarked to make up to eight films per year over the next five years, a fund to be run by Edward Borgerding, a former Disney executives who now heads the Abu Dhabi Media Company.
Borgerding told all this to the Financial Times of London, ahead of a formal announcement on Wednesday.
This is fascinating news for a lot of reasons. First, Hollywood is getting hard up for cash as the money has dried up from private equity and hedge funds in recent years. Second, it is Dubai, not Abu Dhabi, that has been vying to become the capital of popular culture. Dubai has poured millions upon millions into its annual film festival, has built gleaming new entertainment spaces and pays vast sums to lure top entertainers.
Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, has spent a few billion to hire the Louvre and the Guggenheim to build satellite museums.
But apparently Abu Dhabi got the moviemaking itch too.
(Note to readers: I will be travelling to Dubai and Abu Dhabi both in October to report on cultural developments there and get to know the region. I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you on this blog, and in ArtNews magazine, which is sending me on assignment.)
This can only be good news for the movie industry. And I can’t wait to see what fashions Armani comes up with to dress the new moguls from the Middle East, the Red Carpet Abaya.