‘Nefertiti’ leads backlot productions

$130 million Egyptian film to shoot at complex

Egypt’s Media Production City has announced three projects set to lens in the 21-million-square-feet studio complex.

Producer John Heyman’s $130 million “Nefertiti” project, Exodus Films’ $15 million “The Exodus Scrolls” and Blighty shingle Young Legends’ $5 million “Young Cleopatra” have all inked deals with Egypt’s largest film complex.

A media free zone with 31 video and cinema studios, the complex was opened by government decree in February 2000. Lensing on “Young Cleopatra” is set to start in November. “Nefertiti” is slated to start its two-month shoot in February. The long-in-gestation mega-project is a co-production with Egyptian shingle Misr Intl.

EMPC officials are preparing to build a special 21,527-square-foot soundstage for the project. Egypt’s Radio and Television Union is ponying up 40% of cost of the set’s construction, with remaining coin coming from shareholders and private investors.

“There’s huge competition from Morocco, Malta, even Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic,” said Youssef Cherif Rizkallah, studio complex’s head of international co-operation. “We are trying to give the lowest prices we can, helping scout locations and facilitate permits and dealings with the censors board.”

Studio City is also in talks with rival Egyptian Studio Masr to work together to make Egypt as attractive a location as possible.

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 hoping we can co-operate together for the benefit of everybody,” Rizkallah said.

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