‘Kandahar’ sees the first US film ever to shoot entirely in AIUla, Saudi Arabia
01– December 2021 – ‘Kandahar’, the hotly anticipated third reunion of actor Gerard Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh has begun shooting in the extraordinary landscape of AlUla in northwest Saudi Arabia. Produced by Thunder Road Films and Capstone, the highly ambitious action thriller is the first big budget US film to shoot its entirety in AlUla to date. Capstone is financing the film along with MBC Studios.
Kandahar sees Butler reteam with director Waugh and producer Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road Films, alongside producers Erica Lee, Brendon Boyea, G-Base’s Alan Siegel and Butler, and Christian Mercuri of Capstone. David Haring, Scott LaStaiti, Ruzanna Kegegan, Andrea Dimity and Jonathan Fuhrman will executive produce.
Joining the cast is Ali Fazal (male lead of Victoria & Abdul) who can next be seen in Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile for 20th Century Studios which is set to be released on February 11, 2022, and Navid Negahban who garnered critical acclaim for his role as Abu Nazir on the Emmy® Award-winning series ‘Homeland’.
Capstone is spearheading sales on the highly anticipated film with CAA Media Finance representing U.S. rights.
The film is the first Hollywood feature to shoot against the breath-taking landscape of AlUla, home to UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra. The untouched location of wilderness and natural beauty has only recently opened its doors to international production spearheaded by Film AlUla, a film agency set up by the Royal Commission for AlUla. The film will also shoot in Jeddah and is supported by the Saudi Film Commission, and will recruit a team of local skilled crew and local talent working as extras. The film has benefited from an exceptional cash back rebate based on production spend in Saudi and incentives granted by His Highness Prince Badr as Minister of Culture.
Kandahar’ sees Butler star as Tom Harris, an undercover CIA operative, stuck deep in hostile territory in Afghanistan. He must fight his way out, alongside his Afghan translator, to an extraction point in Kandahar, all whilst avoiding the elite special forces tasked with hunting them down. The screenplay is
written by Mitchell LaFortune, and based on his own experiences as a military intelligence officer during the Snowden leaks.
Capstone head Christian Mercuri continued, “Both the allure and challenge of shooting in such an amazing place as AlUla was an opportunity none of us could pass up. The support from the Film Commission and Saudi government has been remarkable and we are beyond excited to be in production and witnessing Gerry, Ric and Basil doing their thing.
Stephen Strachan, Film Commissioner at Film AlUla, said: “We are thrilled to officially start production on ‘Kandahar’, and welcome the production to the visually stunning county of AlUla. With such a notable filmmaking team behind the production, it is an incredible opportunity for us to showcase not only the captivating, varied landscapes of AlUla, but also our local crews and talent that are being utilised by production. We are excited to be able to showcase AlUla to global audiences around the world, and to open the doors to the region as a world-class filming destination.”
Ric Roman Waugh is the acclaimed director and executive producer behind STX’s highly-anticipated feature National Champions, featuring an all-star cast led by Stephan James, JK Simmons, Uzo Aduba, Tim Blake Nelson, Timothy Olyphant, Kristen Chenoweth, Alexander Ludwig and Lil Rel Howery. This incredibly timely film, which will debut later this year, follows a star quarterback who ignites a players strike hours before the biggest game of the year in order to fight for fair compensation, equality and respect for the student-athletes who put their bodies and health on the line for their schools. The film is written by Adam Mervis and is based on his play of the same name. Waugh is also known for directing Greenland starring Gerard Butler – which was a massive global success financially during the pandemic. He will return to the director’s chair for the sequel Greenland: Migration which sold to STX in one of the biggest deals at Cannes earlier this year. Waugh also wrote and directed Angel Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Nick Nolte; Shot Caller starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jon Bernthal; Snitch starring Dwayne Johnson and the acclaimed ensemble Felon. He got his start in the entertainment industry working as a professional stunt player and coordinator for a number of major feature films and television projects.
Fazal is repped by Julian Belfrage Associates, Bowery Artists and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof + Fishman. Negahban is repped by Innovative Artists and Weintraub, Tobin, Chediak, Coleman, Grodin.
Capstone is an independent film financing and worldwide sales company focusing on high quality commercial films with worldwide box office appeal. Established in 2017, Capstone is headed by renowned sales and distribution veteran Christian Mercuri who has sold, financed and produced over 240 feature films. In its first years, the company has financed and/or licensed films with International stars such as Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis, Chris Pratt, Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. Prior to forming Capstone, Mercuri helped finance and distribute projects such as The Wolf of Wall Street, The Expendables, Dumb and Dumber To, and Out of the Furnace.
About Thunder Road
Founded by producer Basil Iwanyk, and run with his partner Erica Lee, Thunder Road Pictures is one of the most prolific and respected independent film companies in Hollywood. Its films have grossed over $3.5 billion worldwide and have garnered nominations from the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Producers Guild Awards, Writers Guild Awards, Directors Guild Awards, and AFI Awards. Most recently, Thunder Road produced Ric Waugh’s disaster epic GREENLAND, starring Gerard Butler; Neil Burger’s sci-fi thriller VOYAGERS, starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Fionn Whitehead, and Lily-Rose Depp; and JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM which received the highest reviews in the franchise, and has grossed $320M+ at the Worldwide Box Office, and built upon the success of the previous installments, JOHN WICK and JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2, all starring Keanu Reeves. Other notable credits include the critically-acclaimed drama THE TOWN, directed by Academy Award winner Ben Affleck; SICARIO, directed by Academy Award nominee Denis Villeneuve and starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin as well as its sequel, SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO; Taylor Sheridan’s WIND RIVER, starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen; and the Oscar winning A STAR IS BORN, directed by and starring Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper opposite Lady Gaga.
Thunder Road’s upcoming projects include the Halle Berry-helmed BRUISED which sold to Netflix at TIFF 2020 and Tarik Saleh’s black op thriller THE CONTRACTOR, starring Chris Pine & Ben Foster. Thunder Road is currently in post-production on Dev Patel’s directorial debut, the stylized revenge thriller MONKEY MAN; the Football Drama NATIONAL CHAMPIONS, starring Stephan James, J.K. Simmons, and Uzo Aduba; and the romantic comedy TEXT FOR YOU starring Priyanka Chopra and Sam Heughan. Additionally, Thunder Road is currently in production on John Wick 4 and in pre-production for the John Wick spin-off TV series ‘The Continental.’
About Ali Fazal
Ali Fazal’s career spans both small and big screens from his home country India and internationally. Fazal’s major English language debut was in 2015 in James Wan’s FURIOUS 7 which grossed $1.5 billion dollars worldwide for Universal Pictures where he joined the ensemble cast as Emirati car mechanic underground racer ‘Safar.’ It was his titular role in Stephen Frears’ VICTORIA & ABDUL for Focus Features opposite Judi Dench, after a worldwide search for the role of ‘Abdul’ that earned Fazal praise and recognition. The film released in 2017 after premiering at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals and went on to earn Golden Globe, SAG and Oscar nominations. It also was Focus Features’ highest grossing film of 2017. That same year Fazal earned Variety’s coveted “10 Actors to Watch” Award that was presented at the Hamptons Film Festival and was invited to join the Academy.
Fazal stars in the Netflix anthology series RAY which has garnered him Best Actor nominations in Asia including S. Korea’s Asia Content Awards.
Fazal continues to star as a ‘rising crime lord’ in Amazon Original’s hit crime thriller “MIRZAPUR” which Season 2 debuted in October 2020 and Season 3 is scheduled to release Fall of 2022. MIRZAPUR is Amazon’s highest viewed series in the Asia-Pacific. Fazal will next be seen in the “Murder on Orient Express” follow up Kenneth Branagh’s DEATH ON THE NILE for 20th Century Studios as British Trustee and murder suspect ‘Cousin Andrew.’ The film is set to release theatrically February 2022.
Fazal started on the stage falling in love with Shakespeare and launched into stardom in India with the widely popular 3 IDIOTS (2009), which became the highest grossing Indian film abroad with $90m in box office internationally. His follow up film was with the hit comedy franchise FUKREY which he
continues to appear in each installment and since starred in memorable roles in BOBBY JASOOS, MILAN TALKIES and the Netflix first Hindi language film HOUSE ARREST.
Fazal is currently filming espionage bilingual thriller “Khufiya” for Netflix