Ricky Gervais

Gervais’s ‘The Office’ eyes Saudi Arabian expansion

A Saudi version of hit comedy show The Office is reportedly in the works.

I tend to blog about consumer goods businesses but this example of a creative product expanding internationally caught my eye. It is also an interesting case study in adapting a winning formula to diverse cultures.

Branded El Maktab, the Saudi version is just the latest in a long line of remakes, 20 years after the show originally debuted in the UK.

The financials for the Saudi show have not been made public, but the show has some heavy weight backers. One is BBC studios which turns over £1.2bn annually, the other is MBC which operates 17 satellite channels plus a video on demand service, Shahid. MBC is majority owned by the Saudi Government, although moved its HQ to Dubai several years ago.

How much Ricky Gervais stands to make is unclear. However, by all accounts, he has benefited enormously from the show’s syndication and licensing deals. Some sources claim he makes 10% of any profits the show takes in.

Some critics say the show is dated. Not surprisingly, Gervais demurs.

The themes are universal: good and bad bosses, doing a decent job, boy meets girl, wanting to be loved

Ricky Gervais

The US version of The Office far exceeded its UK success. There the show ran for 138 episodes and lead star Steve Carell is said to have made over $80m.

In the Saudi version, Salek Abumarh will be playing the unprofessional boss, whilst an Egyptian film maker is the director.

Saleh Abuamrh, source IMDb
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