Arabs open up Pharaoh facet

'Tragedy' breaks budget record with $15 mil

The record for the biggest-budget Arab film is about to be broken — again.

Egypt’s Studio Masr, at Cannes with out-of-competition documentary “These Girls,” will make the $15 million epic “The Tragedy of the Great House,” set during the days of the Pharaohs.

At the Berlin Fest in February, Good News Group unveiled “Al Queda,” budgeted at a record-breaking $7 million. At Cannes, Rotana topped that with the announcement of the $8 million “Al-Andalus.”

Both are easily dwarfed by Masr’s film about the Pharaohs. “We’re not trying to impress anyone with how much money we’re spending,” said producer Karim Gamal El-Din. “We’d love to do ‘Tragedy’ for less but it isn’t possible. We’re driven by projects, not budgets.”

Pic’s funding will be split between Studio Masr and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.

Founded in 1935, Studio Masr was Egypt’s state-run film company until its fortunes wobbled in recent years. It was bought in April 2000 by Gamal El-Din, who revamped its facilities.

“We’re aiming to make eight to 12 pictures a year. Being in Cannes has given us a big push,” said Gamal El-Din.

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