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October 25, 2007

CONTACTS: Frank Pietrucha: (202) 253-7376;
Claire Duggan: (202) 994-0616;
Adela de la Torre: (202) 994-6424;


Growing Pan-Arab Market and Popularity of Egyptian Stars are
Major Reasons for Revival

WASHINGTON - The George Washington University Law School's Creative and Innovative Economy Center (CIEC) released a report today on intellectual property and economic challenges in the Egyptian film industry to members of Geneva's diplomatic community at a conference hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organization's Creative Industries Division.  The study notes that over the past five years, Egypt's annual film production output has increased from 22 feature-length films in 2002 to over 56 production starts in 2006; an increase of 250 percent. 

The study finds a main factor in this spectacular upward curve is the remarkable increase in inward direct investment into Egyptian cinema from the rest of the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where demand for Arab language-filmed entertainment has been soaring.   CIEC research shows the influx of Saudi/UAE "petrodollars" into the Egyptian film industry over the past five years has swelled production budgets by over 50 percent.

Additionally, the report credits Egypt's tremendous pool of internationally recognized movie stars as another key factor in its success. 

"Egypt is still the dream factory of the Arab world," notes the report's author and CIEC researcher, Bertrand Moullier.  "Despite a considerable loss of production capital and infrastructure over the past 30 years, the existence of a powerful 'star system' gives Egyptian film strong branding at home and in other Arab countries."

The CIEC research also revealed that Egypt has so far been unable to contain the illegal copying and distribution of domestic films.  Anecdotal evidence gathered from legitimate video distributors suggests the rates of piracy in the dominant video compact disc (VCD) format and the more recently introduced digital video disk (DVD), represent well over 90 percent of the market.

Center Director Michael P. Ryan said, "The lack of enforcement of Egyptian IP law, means that this segment of the film value chain represents only a fraction of total film revenues going back to the industry. Egypt must take better control of IP enforcement if true, long-term benefits are to be realized in its film industry."

The study suggests other concerns for the Egyptian film industry.  "Although Egyptian film is enjoying a resurgence," says Moullier, "filmmakers in that country must be careful in how they manage production costs and grow their industry.  The apex of the Egyptian film financing system is pan-Arab broadcast television.  Remove the broadcast market leaders from Egypt and the entire architecture of this fragile economy can be endangered."

The George Washington University Law School's Creative and Innovative Economy Center believes creativity and innovation are critical tools in fighting the war on poverty, eradicating disease, and improving the quality of human life through the arts and technology.  The center conducts research and organizes educational programs that demonstrate how creativity and innovation drive global economic development and contribute to healthcare.

For more information about the CIEC, visit
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