Hollywood grows wary of Saudi deals after journalist's disappearance

October 15, 2018Media Mention
Los Angeles Times

Much of Hollywood had hoped the conservative desert kingdom, which had only recently legalized movie theaters after a nearly four-decade ban, would be the next big market for American entertainment — and a new source of much-needed capital after China curtailed its investments in the U.S. film and TV business.

But the entertainment industry’s dreams collided with harsh realities this month as world leaders demanded answers about the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S.-based dissident Saudi journalist. Khashoggi has not been seen since he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2. Turkish media reports have said he was killed and dismembered in the consulate. Saudi officials have disavowed any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

Now, film industry figures are reevaluating their ties with the autocratic monarchy in the wake of the gruesome controversy, which blatantly contradicts the image of an increasingly modern and reformist Saudi Arabia.

“It's absolutely going to have a profound impact,” said Schuyler Moore, a prominent Los Angeles entertainment industry attorney at Greenberg Glusker. “There’s no question. Everyone was lined up on the tarmac to make films there and make financing deals. That party, overnight, is going to be over.”