‘Flight 404’ Movie Gets U.S., Europe Release After Scoring at MENA Box Office

by Marwa Mostafa

After scoring robust box office results regionally, the Egyptian thriller “Flight 404,” starring Mona Zaki as a woman whose tainted past resurfaces as she is about to embark on a pilgrimage to Mecca, is getting a small but significant rollout in the U.S. and Europe.

Directed by Hani Khalifa, “Flight 404” sees Zaki – who starred in the Arabic adaptation of the hit dramedy “Perfect Strangers” – playing an Egyptian woman named Ghada who is about to board a flight to participate in the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the holy site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to atone for past misdeeds, when she is forced to face a sudden emergency requiring lots of cash. This prompts Ghada to reconnect with shady people from her past from whom she had long distanced herself.

Since releasing in Egypt on Jan. 25, “Flight 404” has scored more than 450,000 admissions across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, breaking Egyptian box office records for a female-led film and proceeding to top box office charts in Saudi for four consecutive weeks, according to distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment. In Saudi Arabia, which is the MENA region’s top market, “Flight 404” has scored roughly 280,000 admissions and grossed $4 million, Front Row said.

Since Feb. 23 “Flight 404” has been on limited release in the U.S. and Canada via distributor Ceema Films, which specializes in releasing Arabic Movies in international cinemas. Ceema will be releasing the film in Sweden, Denmark, Austria, and the Netherlands on March 1.

Misr International Films helmed the theatrical distribution in Egypt, while Front Row Filmed Entertainment handled it in the Gulf Cooperation Council which comprises Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Empire is releasing the film in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, and Ciné 7ème Art in Morocco and Tunisia. 

“’ Flight 404’” has worked tremendously well locally, but I always thought that in terms of story and execution, this is a film that deserved to find a niche audience in international markets, and also play for Arab-speaking expats who are deprived of the chance of watching Arabic language titles in cinemas and outside of a few select festivals,” said producer Mohamed Hefzy. “I hope more of our films will get the same chance in the coming years.”

Besides Zaki, the “Flight 404” A-list cast includes Mohamed Farrag, Mohamed Mamdouh, Shereen Reda, Khaled al-Sawi, Mohamed Alaa, and Hassan Al-Adl.

“Flight 404” is produced by Hefzy and Shahnaz Al-Akkad through their production companies Film Clinic and Lagoonie Film Production, in co-production with Saudi Arabia’s Pictures Entertainment Group and Hi Media Production.

 

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