FFA invests in Hollywood film
Gibran’s ‘the prophet’ hoped to earn $50 million at the box office
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FFA Private Bank is hoping to multiply their client’s investment through financing 30 percent of an animated Hollywood film based on Gibran Khalil Gibran’s book ‘The Prophet’. Julien Khabbaz, head of investment banking at FFA Private Bank, said hopes are high that the Salma Hayek-produced film will generate $50 million in box office receipts, which would translate to good returns for their investors: “Anything over $30 million will be a success.”

“It is a risky business, but it’s rare when all the right elements come together as in this case. We have the right producer, Salma Hayek, the right script, Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’, and the right lead director, Roger Allers (of Lion King fame),” Khabbaz said. The Prophet has to date sold over 100 million copies since it was first published in 1923. Salma Hayek will be producing the animation along with Clark Peterson and Ron Senkowski.

The bank issued a teaser to their investment banking clients and managed to raise around $4 million from mostly Lebanese investors out of the $12 million needed for the whole production. Pre-production on the animated Hollywood film will start this month and the film is slated for release in the first or second quarter of 2013.

This is FFA’s third investment in an international motion picture, the fourth overall, one of the movies was a Lebanese production. Their first foray into the international movie industry was in a $26 million-budget French film whose name will be announced by the bank next week to coincide with the release of that film.

FFA Private Bank is co-financing the animated film along with My Group (a Lebanon-based investment firm owned by Nael and Haytham Nasr), the Doha Film Institute (DFI), as well as three US-based production firms: Participant Media, JRW Entertainment, and Code Red Productions.

Khabbaz said they were approached by My Group with the proposal, adding that the bank’s chairman, Jean Riachi, is also friends with Salma Hayek’s husband. This helped the deal go through quicker.

By Hani Bathiche

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Date Posted: Mar 01, 2012