Hollywood’s eastern aspiration

A regional public relations firm is in talks with Hollywood producers to bring to the silver screen the story of Saladin.

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By  John Irish Published  August 14, 2003

Film buffs from across the region could soon see a glossy multi-million dollar Hollywood adaptation of 12th century Muslim warrior Saladin.

Zeidan Consultancy, a Middle East public relations consultancy, confirmed that it was looking to bring the Crusades to the silver screen.

Although the idea is still in its infancy, Monal Zeidan, CEO of Zeidan Consultancy indicated that he was hopeful production talks could begin as early as November once the screenplay was finalised.

“In conjunction with a literary agency in California, we’re developing a screenplay based on a 900 year old biography of Saladin that was written at the time by his closest advisor. It has never been in the public domain,” Zeidan told Arabian Business.

As of yet Hollywood producers Zinkler, which has three films to its credit including Massiah and Wise Girls, a low-budget movie starring Mariah Carey, are in talks with Zeidan, although the consultancy group is still considering its options.

“They are willing to co-produce this if we can raise some finance from investors. They will match whatever we raise and package it with us,” said Zeidan. “I prefer to choose the studio [rather than being independent], as the distribution will be guaranteed as part of the package,” he added.

According to Zeidan the minimum required to produce a world-class movie of this type could reach the US $30 million mark, excluding actor fees. With names such as Russell Crowe and Antonio Banderas branded as potential stars, that figure could easily double these estimates.

At this stage the project appears to have caught the imagination of several Saudi investors, particularly as the plan is to shoot part of the movie in the Middle East.

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