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Inside Hollywood’s Embrace of Saudi Arabia

A top Saudi Arabian official, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, has been meeting this week with Hollywood executives such as Fox chief Rupert Murdoch and Disney chairman Bob Iger to discuss ways to work together, including possible investments in slates of films. The talks could lead to a win-win deal: For Hollywood, the wealthy kingdom is both a source of cash and a market potentially worth $1 billion that was, until recently, closed to movies. The Saudi leadership, meanwhile, hopes to use a Hollywood alliance to seed its own entertainment industry and reduce its dependence on oil.

But beneath the surface, there are some complicating or just unusual factors, as could be expected when two vastly different cultures come together. The Information spoke to six people directly involved in the courtship between Hollywood and Saudi Arabia who portrayed a delicate dance. Each side is trying to maximize what it can get in the deal while minimizing anything that might sour the relationship. The people spoke to The Information on the condition that they not be named due to the sensitive nature of the negotiations.

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