The film will tap into Neom’s 40% cash rebate for feature films, TV dramas, reality shows, documentaries and commercials.
British filmmaker Simon West is set to helm the epic historical drama Antara, set in Saudi Arabia and scheduled to be filmed in Neom, the production hub in the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia.
Based on a true story, the film tells of Antara ibn Shaddad, the imprisoned warrior who was propelled to stardom in the sixth century. Not only did he win his freedom, but he also became the greatest knight and the most celebrated poet in Arabian history. The film is co-produced by writer and producer Alexander Amartei. Also a co-producer is Celtic Arabia’s Stuart Sutherland, who recently co-produced Kandahar, starring Gerard Butler, in the Kingdom.
Filming in Neom is set to commence in early 2024 and will span a 12-week period. The production will benefit from Noem’s 40%++ cash rebate for various content categories, including feature films, TV dramas, reality shows, documentaries, and commercials. Neom offers top-tier sound stages, production support facilities, a skilled workforce, and competitive incentives.
The film’s primary location will be Neom’s Bajdah Studios, equipped not only to capture the region’s landscapes but also to feature cutting-edge sound stages for production. Additionally, the film will make use of Neom’s 468-km Red Sea coastline, a prominent geographical feature of Neom.
Speaking about the film, 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 life of Antara is one of those relatively little-known true stories that prove that fact can be so much stranger than fiction. 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.”
Wayne Borg, Managing Director of Media Industries, Entertainment, and Culture at Neom, added: “Our support of international productions, such as Antara, highlights the growing confidence film producers have in Neom and reinforces our position as the gateway to the MENA region for the media industries. 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.”
Alexander Amartei stated: “We are excited to work with Neom to bring the first great swords and sandals epic since Troy and Gladiator to the world. As Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon marked a complete paradigm shift for Chinese cinema, we see Antara as a cultural extravaganza that will be a complete game changer in the region and dazzle the world in a lavishly artistic and sophisticated way.”
Stuart Sutherland commented: “It’s exciting to be back in Saudi Arabia filming my fourth feature film through my local production company. Simon’s vision, the dramatic locations that Neom affords, and the incredible true story of Antara make for an exhilarating cinematic adventure.”
In September, Neom is set to host various productions, including MBC’s Exceptional, a TV drama series comprising 200 episodes per year, Hobal, a Saudi feature film directed by acclaimed filmmaker Abdulaziz Alshlahei, and two Telfaz features as part of a partnership aiming to create multiple TV and film productions over the next three years. Additionally, two reality series and several commercials are in the pipeline for production in the coming weeks.