‘Tomb Raider’ director heads to Saudi Arabia to shoot upcoming blockbuster

History drama movie fans can look forward to this…

NEOM, the futuristic city in Saudi Arabia, has attracted yet another prominent filmmaker to its landscape.

Acclaimed filmmaker Simon West – renowned for his work in movies like Con-Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The General’s Daughter, and The Expendables 2 – has chosen NEOM as the primary location for his upcoming epic historical drama, “Antara”.

NEOM film location

NEOM boasts breathtaking landscapes of canyons, desert and a long stretch of unspoiled Red Sea coastline. It also provides filmmakers with cutting-edge sound stages for production.

What is the film about?

The English-language blockbuster, based on a true story, tells the story of Antara ibn Shaddad, an imprisoned warrior. He was propelled to stardom in the sixth century after winning his freedom and becoming the greatest knight and the most celebrated poet in Arabian history.

The film is co-produced by writer and producer Alexander Amartei and producer Stuart Sutherland. Sutherland, whose credits include Killing Eve and Saudi-set Born a King, co-produced the recently released action thriller Kandahar, starring Gerard Butler, which was also shot in the Kingdom.

Bajdah Studios

Based at NEOM’s state-of-the-art Bajdah Studios, production on “Antara” is scheduled to start in early 2024 and last for 12 weeks. Casting on “Antara”, however, is being kept under wraps.

Additionally, the film will showcase the 468-kilometre stretch of unspoiled Red Sea coastline, a prominent geographical feature of NEOM.

NEOM sets stage for the future of filmmaking

Simon West said, “Bringing the story of Antara ibn Shaddad to the big screen and the masses is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue his legend. The opportunity to film in the homeland of the Banu Abs tribe means we will keep true to the piece whilst helping to grow the emerging film industry in the region. It’s a project I’m thrilled to be involved with and I am looking forward to creating something unique for a global audience.”


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Wayne Borg, managing director of Media Industries, Entertainment, and Culture at NEOM, said the arrival of a big international production like Antara was further evidence of the growing confidence film producers have in Neom.

“They also boost our ecosystem’s development by providing unparalleled work experience opportunities for young Saudis and fast-track the development and growth of the local workforce,” he added.

Productions due to shoot in NEOM this month include MBC’s “Exceptional”, a TV drama series comprising 200 episodes per year, and “Hobal”, the Saudi feature film directed by acclaimed Saudi Arabian Abdulaziz Alshlahei.

Two Telfaz features are also due to shoot as part of a recently announced partnership that aims to create up to nine TV and film productions over the next three years. Additionally, two reality series and several commercials are set to go into production in coming weeks.

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