EXCLUSIVE: Production is underway on Desert Warrior, an action packed epic feature set in 7th Century Arabia. Anthony Mackie stars with Aiysha Hart, Sharlto Copley, Ghassan Massoud, Sami Bouajila, Lamis Ammar, Géza Röhrig, and Sir Ben Kingsley. The film is shooting in Neom and Tabuk in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The script is by Wyatt, Erica Beeney, David Self, and Gary Ross.
MBC Studios, JB Pictures and AGC Studios are teamed on the film, the first tentpole-sized picture to be shot at Neom.
It’s 7th century, when Arabia is made up of rival, feuding tribes, disunited and forever at each other’s throats. Emperor Kisra (Kingsley) has a fearsome reputation for being utterly ruthless. But when the Arabian Princess Hind (Hart) refuses to become the emperor’s concubine, the stage is set for an epic confrontation. It is a battle that, by its conclusion, will have changed the region forever and echo throughout history. Escaping with her father, King Numan (Massoud) into the vast and unforgiving desert, Hind is pursued by Kisra’s seasoned mercenary Jalabzeen and his bloodthirsty troops. Hind and her father are forced to entrust their safety to a mysterious bandit (Mackie), whose fighting prowess is second to none. The bandit harbors his own secrets, which will play a large part in deciding the fate of the battle. Hind inspires the fractious tribes to come together for one last stand and unite against an army that outnumbers them and is far better equipped.
AGC International, the international sales and distribution arm of AGC Studios, is handling worldwide sales.
MBC Studios is the production arm of MBC Group, the largest and leading media company in the Middle East and North Africa, and Desert Warrior is its biggest ever film production to date. The picture is supported by the Neom Media Industries Sector, with major productions being a catalyst for the development of the regional media industries epicenter at Neom.
It is another big picture for Mackie, who Deadline recently revealed will be the star of the next Captain America film for Marvel Studios, after co-starring in the Disney+ series Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Wyatt directed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and episodes of the Apple TV+ series Mosquito Coast, on which he is an executive producer.
Jeremy Bolt is producing through his JB Pictures.
MBC Studios KSA General Manager Zeinab Abu Alsamh said the company “is proud to be working with such world class talent across the board on Desert Warrior; it is testament to our ambition towards producing premium content for global audiences. Desert Warrior is a tale of adventure, with a fierce female hero at the forefront of the story. We hope the story will connect with audiences of all ages worldwide. Rupert Wyatt is a visionary filmmaker, and Jeremy Bolt has already proven his mettle in steering this epic project into production. The cast is a dream come true…
A mix of Arab and non-Arab talent coming together to create an unforgettable movie and highlighting the rich culture we have here,” she said. “This is the beginning of having Saudi be a production hub for local and global films.”
Bolt said the film “will give audiences a ringside seat to one of the most dramatic and consequential battles in history. Spectacular action and great bravery set against stunning mountainous desert landscapes.”
Wayne Borg, Managing Director, Media Industries at NEOM added: “Attracting a production of the scale of Desert Warrior as our first feature film highlights the confidence the film industry has in our ability to deliver a seamless production experience. Our fresh and diverse locations, world-class production team and attractive incentives make NEOM a very appealing destination for screen production.”
Mackie is repped by UTA and Inspire Entertainment; Hart is Curtis Brown and 42, and Wyatt is UTA.
Production will continue for several months.