Tarak Ben Ammar's Quinta Communications and the Doha Film Institute (DFI) have inked a deal to co-produce Jean-Jacques Annaud's $55 million budgeted Black Gold. Ben Ammar's banner has pacted with the DFI to co-produce the Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede starrer. Billed as an epic adventure, the screenplay by Menno Meyjes is an adaptation of Hans Reusch's novel The Great Thirst. Annaud and Alain Godardhave co-write the story. The deal was unveiled Thursday during this year's DFI.
Shooting began in Tunisia earlier this month and the film will shoot in and around Ben Ammar's Empire Studios in Tunisia, as well as on location in Qatar next year. Black Gold tells the story of the rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia in the 1930's just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young, dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms Warner Bros. will distribute the film in France, the U.K., Latin America and the Middle East.
Universal Pictures International (UPI) will distribute the film in Germany and Spain. Quinta Communications' Eagle Pictures is handling distribution in Italy.
"I am delighted that the Doha Film Institute will be my partners in bringing this epic story of Arab heroism and nobility to audiences around the world," said Ben Ammar. "When I first tried to make this film over 30 years ago, I could not find any Arab partners who shared my belief that culture and cinema was a priority. Now, thanks to the inspirational vision of H.E. Sheikha Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani and her team at the Doha Film Institute, I can see how much has changed and that progress is real."