Jordan's Rubicon to co-produce Pink Panther

Deal is first of its kind between a major American studio and an Arab company, says MGM.

Hollywood's Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Studios Inc. has entered into a joint production and financing venture with Rubicon, an Amman-based local animation company.

Under the agreement, Rubicon, which primarily specialises in children's programming, will begin co-producing "Pink Panther & Pals," a new cartoon based on the iconic MGM character, in July.

The deal represents MGM's first foray into the Middle Eastern market, and is the first agreement of its kind between a major American studio and an Arab company, according to Travis Rutherford, executive vice president of MGM.

The agreement will target three main areas - content creation, licensing and merchandising, and the development of ‘location-based entertainment', which includes theme parks, casinos and housing developments.

George Wade, senior vice president of location-based entertainment for MGM, said Pink Panther was a ‘natural choice' for the studio's first entry into the Middle Eastern market. "There's a specific need in this region for children's entertainment," he said.

Rubicon's CEO Randa Ayoubi agreed, adding that there was a genuine need for family-friendly children's entertainment. "It's a very feel-good, happy product," she said. "We're bringing high-quality entertainment that's not just people beating each other."

Rubicon will be the exclusive MGM licensing and merchandising agent in the Middle East and North Africa, and will seek out more location-based entertainment opportunities in the region.

Executives at MGM and Rubicon would not disclose the value of the deal, citing confidentiality concerns, but Rutherford called it "a very significant amount of money."

Ayoubi considered the deal a major step towards achieving her company's vision, which is to rival studios like Disney's Pixar, within the next 10 years.

"It puts us on the map," she said. "Hollywood is a very tough place to break into. So we're very excited."

Rubicon also recently produced Ben & Izzy, which was launched by Queen Rania last May in the United States. Ayoubi is seeking distribution of the series in US markets under the agreement.

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