By Mohammed Ayyad
Production costs for Ramadan serials decreased this year to EGP 900m, compared to EGP 1.5bn last year, with pressure from the deteriorating situation of production companies this year.
Ramadan is characterised by heavy television viewership in Egypt, which is highly enticing for producers and directors during this time. There are some 30 dramas dedicated to the month of Ramadan, as well as the burden of production costs including salaries of artists, directors, writers, filming, decor, operating costs and editing.
“His Excellency”, at EGP 65m, tops the list of dramas in production costs, with MBC announcing its success in obtaining the new serial’s rights. This comes after several other Arab satellite channels also fought for the rights to broadcast the series. The serial, which stars famous actor Adel Imam, will be shown on MBC Masr.
The series “Saraya Al-Abdeen,” starring Yousra, also tops the list of most expensive dramas this year. The historical nature of the series imposed higher than usual production costs for the historically accurate clothing, as well as accessories, décor, and to gain a number of big Arab stars.
The serial revolves around the reign of Khedive Ismail, his life inside the palace, and the period in which he took over the reins of government. It also deals with the relationship between Ismail and his mother, Queen Hoshiar.
The series is among the most expensive ever produced by Sheikh Waleed Bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, Chairman of the Board of Directors of MBC. It was filmed in Dubai studios and, according to Al-Ibrahim, the series’ budget exceeded that of “Omar,” an Emirati-produced series with a budget over EGP 55m.
The highest costs for the series “Amazement” (“Dahsha”), starring Yahya Al-Fakhrani, came from its decor, as most of the events take place in a village of the same name. The village was built especially for the show by engineer Khaled Ameen in Al-Mansuriyya and is where much of the series’ events take place. This comes in addition to the decor of a palace where the protagonist’s father lives. The village took months to build and came at a cost of nearly EGP 40m. It is an identical copy of the village of Dahshur as it was in 1930 in terms of details and historical features.
The Mahmoud Abdel Aziz series, “Abu Heba Jabl Al-Helal,” also came with huge production costs, including for the main decor that meant building a palace on a 1600 metre plot. Interior decorator Fawzi Al-Awamri built cinema studios as well, at a cost of EGP 36.2m.The series is written by Nasser Abdel-Rahman, directed by Adel Adeeb, and is starring Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Wafaa Amer, Nermin Feki, and Tariq Lutfi, amongst others.
The series starring Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe, “Words on Paper” (“Kalam a’la warq”) cost nearly EGP 42m. The production company produced the series by selling the rights to broadcasting it during Ramadan to seven Egyptian and Arab channels. The channels include Al-Nahar, MBC, AND Al-Masria, in addition to Lebanese channel “Al-Mostaqbal”, Emirati “Al-Zafra,” “Al-Maghrabia,” and “Orbit.”
The series “Time Difference” (“Farq Tawqit”), co-stars Tamer Hosni, Nicole Saba, Sherry Adel, Mai Salim, Zafar Al-Abdeen, Ahmed Saadani, Walid Fawaz. The series is written by Mohammed Suleiman and directed by Islam Kheiry, and will be broadcasting exclusively in Egypt on Al-Nahar, and on more than 15 other Arab channels. Its production costs are approximately EGP 37m.
“Al-Akslans,” the series starring Ahmed Ezz, was produced at a cost of roughly EGP 35m and is broadcasting exclusively on Al-Nahar. “Viva Atata” was nearly EGP 33m to produce and is broadcasting on CBC in Egypt and three Arab channels.
Serials listed in order of cost – Production cost in millions of pounds
1.His Excellency – 65m
2. Saraya Abdeen -55m
3. Words on Paper (Kalam a’la Waraq) – 42m
4. Astonishment (Dahsha) -40m
5. Time Difference (Farq Al-Tawqit) -37m
6 Abu Heba Jabl Al-Halal – 36.2m
7. Gynecology – 35.8m
8. Al-Akslans -35m
9. Viva Atata- 33m
10. Empire Meen – 27m