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Christina Wayne Confirmed To Be Exiting As Managing Director Of MBC Studios; Read Company Memo With Succession Plan

UPDATE AT 08:28 AM PST with added internal MBC memo about Wayne’s transition.

ORIGINAL EXCLUSIVE POSTED AT 06:40AM PST: After 15 months in the role, Christina Wayne is exiting as Managing Director of MENA network MBC Studios, we can reveal.

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According to an internal company memo from MBC CEO Sam Barnett that Deadline has now seen, Wayne is leaving the position because she is unable to move to Saudi Arabia full time. The memo notes that MBC hopes she will transition to a consulting role. The message to staff also confirms that Samar Akrouk will take over management duties at MBC Studios and will manage existing production operations.

MBC Studios is the production arm of the Middle East and North Africa-focused MBC Group, the Gulf’s biggest network, and former Amazon and AMC exec Wayne had been tasked with continuing the group’s push into premium non-English-language TV programs and sprinkling in some English-language content. MBC operates 17 free-to-air satellite channels and streaming service Shahid.

A key priority for MBC in the past couple of years has been moving much of the studio’s regionally based staff, operations and content output to Saudi Arabia.

During her tenure at MBC, alongside the TV slate, she oversaw the world premiere of high-profile regional project HWJN, which launched at the Red Sea Film Festival, and worked on the edit of big-budget Rupert Wyatt movie Desert Warrior with Anthony Mackie. That project lensed back in 2021 and has endured a challenging and lengthy post-production. Wayne told us in December that the plan was to go out to buyers in Q1, 2024, and for a big theatrical release after a desired Cannes, Venice or other major festival launch, but it is still in the edit.

We spoke to Wayne about the company’s direction last December when she told us: “I’ve been here for almost a year. Coming in to a company that has been in existence for decades, it was about me listening and learning and understanding the business. The second half of that time has been about instituting some changes: how we structure development, how we all work together, clarifying what our mandate is from our buyer Shahid; we have a clear business plan for 2024 with content from dramas to comedies to docs on the TV side. We also have three films in post-production. We have our regional content and we have some global TV shows that are English-language that we’ll be greenlighting at the end of 2024 for 2025.”

Wayne was previously Amazon Studios originals boss for Canada and Australia and worked at AMC Networks — where she helped shepherd Mad Men and Breaking Bad — and Cineflix. She succeeded Peter Smith at MBC after he held the role for four years.

MEMO:

‘Desert Warrior’
‘Desert Warrior’

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