After Cruise, Brangelina Hollywood's next Dubai Pitt stop?

Wish list of top stars underscores Dubai Film and TV Commission strategy

Many Dubai-based Hollywood fans have already penned a wish list of A-listers they hope to spy on our sunny shores in the near future, with Brad Pitt topping the list, along with fiancé Angelina Jolie pouting by his side.

The reality may not be too far behind as the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) works on new strategic partnerships to court top Hollywood players, along with its television counterparts to firmly park their film cameras in the emirate in the near future.

Headed by Jamal Al Sharif, Chairman of DFTC, it’s recently concluded first board meeting focused on the commission’s mandate to increase local production and attract international players from both the film and TV sectors.

The commission also identified processes to decrease the cost of media production to enhance Dubai’s attractiveness to regional and international production companies and film studios.

Additionally, the board members identified a core priority to develop an incentive scheme that fosters local talent.

Al Sharif said in a statement: “Dubai’s strategic approach to investment in the media industry has established the city as the regional trailblazer. This approach has benefitted both Dubai and the UAE at large.

“With the film industry in Dubai and the UAE on the threshold of tremendous growth, the commission will deliver a much-needed boost to the landscape.

“Furthermore, the timely decision to establish this body will offer both regional and international filmmakers an enabling platform to film in Dubai, which will in turn drive the growth of the local film and television industry.”

Hollywood calling

Dubai’s turn in the international spotlight had its most recent success with the shoot of ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’, which saw the likes of Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner shoot in Burj Khalifa and other parts of the city, for their blockbuster film.

So enamoured was Cruise by the city that he openly admitted to the media last year that he would recommend Dubai as the next destination for Hollywood films, saying: “The stories in Hollywood about Dubai are phenomenal and I could see many future films being shot here; as for me, I would most certainly return when given the chance.”

Burj Khalifa, which played an integral role in the fourth instalment of the ‘Mission Impossible’ franchise, certainly went a long way in putting Dubai on the map as a hot tourist destination.

According to DFTC research, a strong growth has been witnessed in demand for production services in Dubai and interest from major international productions with ‘Mission Impossible 4’, which drew the world’s attention to Dubai, leading to an increase in film productions from China, India and Europe.

Al Sharif added: “An interesting emergent trend is that viewers are increasingly making travel decisions as a result of exposure to locations featured in popular films or TV shows.

“This has contributed to a 40 per cent increase in tourism at specific destinations, with governments citing that the attractions draw one in 10 visitors to their country. Some examples are Turkey and New Zealand. 

“We also believe that incentivising film and TV productions targeting international audiences has increased the overall creative talent pool and resulted in ‘fast-track’ development of the resident and indigenous industry.

“We are confident that the initiatives of the Dubai Film and TV Commission will help develop a rich resource of industry-specific talent in the UAE.”

The story so far…

The year-old DFTC was established under the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, on the ethos that the film and TV industry has a high multiplier effect on the macro economy, impacting the tourism, transportation, storage, financial services and construction sectors and ultimately contributing to an increase in the overall GDP of the UAE.

In the past decade, Dubai and the larger UAE have witnessed several international projects filmed here, with one of the leading ones being the 2005-released geopolitical thriller, ‘Syriana’.

The George Clooney- and Matt Damon-starrer saw the award-winning actor portray a CIA operative who gets embroiled in petroleum politics and the influence on the oil industry. Dubai’s prominent Gold Souq and the One and Only Royal Mirage Hotel were prominent in the film.

The next Hollywood biggie to make way here was the Peter Berg directed ‘The Kingdom’, which saw this Universal release partially shot in Abu Dhabi, with the Emirates Palace Hotel and the Sheikh Rashid highway being familiar landmarks we saw in the film.

The film starred Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner.

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