Summer blockbuster season kicked off the first weekend of May for North America, but in other parts of the world it's just getting started. Egypt is defending its cinema turf against the pending Hollywood invasion by unleashing more than two dozen locally-produced films into theaters. It's not just "locals vs. Hollywood," though. Egypt Today says that the two largest local distributors are battling each other, both hoping to lure audiences with comedies: Al-Arabia with Karkar and Oscar/El-Nasr/El-Massa with the big-budget ("a whopping LE 27 million," or about 4.7 million US dollars) Morgan Ahmed Morgan. The latter film stars Adel Iman, in his late 60s and still hugely popular, as a wealthy businessman who never attended college. He goes back to school to impress his children and meets a lovely lady professor ... wait a minute, this sounds suspiciously like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School! Chalk up another remake (albeit an apparently unofficial one) to the global blockbuster madness.

Speaking of unofficial remakes, I thought I spotted another one when I read that actor/singer Hani Ramzi would be starring in An Officer and Four Cats. It sounded like some strange cross-breed romance in which the Egyptian Richard Gere would cradle four felines in his arms and carry them triumphantly out of a factory -- until I learned that "The 4 Cats" is a Lebanese girl group of singers. Hmmm. (Actually, they look pretty hot. I'd probably go watch this one.) Without knowing the quality of the films, I'm rooting for audiences to support local cinema for the sake of diversity, if nothing else. Only six or seven foreign titles will be released during the Egyptian summer, according to Variety, and they face their own challenges. For example: how will The Simpsons Movie be received, since the original series has never aired there? One thing is fairly certain: Evan Almighty "probably won't see release in Egypt due to local touchiness over religious subject matter," which may be the understatement of the year.