US-Arabian action picture Desert Warrior shooting in new NEOM city

This is the first major Hollywood production to shoot on site of Saudi Arabia’s planned smart city.

By Melanie Goodfellow 16 Nov 2021

US-Arabian action picture Desert Warrior shooting in new NEOM city
Desert Warrior. Credit: MBC Studios

MBC Studios, the production arm of Saudi-owned, pan-Arab media conglomerate MBC Group, has partnered with US-based JB Pictures and AGC Studios on UK director Rupert Wyatt’s 7th-Century action picture Desert Warrior.

The production has been shooting on the site of the planned Neom smart city in the northwest Saudi province of Tabuk since September 12 but details of the project have been largely under wraps until now.  

The MBC press release confirmed the international and Middle East cast led by Anthony Mackie and Aiysha Hart and also featuring Sharlto Copley, Ghassan Massoud, Sami Bouajila, Lamis Ammar, Géza Röhrig, and Ben Kingsley. 

Wyatt, whose credits include Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and The Mosquito Coast, is directing from a screenplay co-written with Erica Beeney, David Self and Oscar-nominated writer Gary Ross. Jeremy Bolt of JB Pictures is the lead producer. 

”MBC Studios 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,” said MBC Studios KSA general manager Zeinab Abu Alsamh.

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.”

Set against the backdrop of an imaginary 7th Century Arabia made up of rival feuding tribes, Hart stars as a princess who teams up with a mysterious bandit, played by Mackie, against an evil, power-hungry emperor who is the scourge of the land. 

Desert Warrior is the first major production to film in Neom which has ambitions to become a major shooting hub. 

”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,” said Wayne Borg, managing director, media industries at Neom. 

AGC International, the international sales and distribution arm of AGC Studios, will handle worldwide sales.

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