From Mission: Impossible to Fast and Furious, the capital of the United Arab Emirates is a huge draw for film production teams
Abu Dhabi’s flamboyant deserts and iconic landscapes are just one of the city’s main draws when it comes to film production. Over the past few years, the capital of the United Arab Emirates has become increasingly popular with directors and producers of some of Hollywood’s biggest-budget action movies. And for good reason.
The latest film shot in Abu Dhabi is ‘Dune’, which won six Oscars – the most awards at the ceremony on Sunday March 27.
The epic action-adventure film, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, was filmed in the Liwa desert in 2019 over 11 days with a crew of local and international talent.
The film is just one of those to benefit from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s 30% cash back scheme, while production services were provided by the Abu Dhabi-based production company Dhabi Epic Films. It has also received support from several UAE production partners, including twofour54, Go Aerials, Filmquip Media, FSTOP Location Services and EMAN Transport.
“It’s an absolutely phenomenal moment for Montreal director Denis Villeneuve and the cast and crew of Dune, who won six fantastic Oscars, for Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Music Original, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound,” Hans Fraikin, Abu Dhabi Film Commission, said in a statement after the Oscars announcement on Monday. “A big congratulations to all for this incredible success.”
Starring big names (from Timothée Chalamet and Josh Brolin to Zendaya and Jason Momoa), the film tells the story of Paul Atreides, a gifted young man born to a great destiny, who must travel to Arrakis – the planet the most dangerous woman in the universe to ensure the future of her family and her people.
Here’s a look at seven other blockbusters that have chosen the capital of the United Arab Emirates as their filming location.
6 Underground is a 2019 American action thriller film directed by Michael Bay and written by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. Produced by Netflix, the film was shot in Abu Dhabi over 27 days at the end of 2018.
A total of 24 sites were used, including Louvre Abu Dhabi, Aldar Headquarters, Etihad Towers, Arkan – Al Ain Cement Factory, Twofour54 Backlot and Liwa Desert.
The rich variety of locations on offer meant that Abu Dhabi doubled down for places as diverse as Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Nigeria, California and a fictional country.
The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Adria Arjona, Corey Hawkins, Ben Hardy and Dave Franco. It follows a group of people who fake their deaths and decide to form a team of vigilantes to stage a coup against a ruthless dictator.
With a budget of $150 million, the film is one of the most expensive Netflix Originals ever made. It received generally polarizing reviews, with praise for Reynolds’ performances and action sequences.
Fast & Furious 7
This 2015 American action film, directed by James Wan, shot some of its scenes in Abu Dhabi and is one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time. The film stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker (in his final film role), and Dwayne Johnson, among others.
In it, Dominic Toretto, Brian O’Conner and the rest of their team returned to the United States to live normal lives after being granted amnesty for their past crimes, until Deckard Shaw, an assassin of the rogue special forces seeking revenge for his comatose younger brother. , again puts the team in danger.
It was filmed in very iconic locations in Abu Dhabi including the Emirates Palace, Al Ain City and the Jumeirah Etihad Towers. The latter, in fact, is where one of the most adrenaline-charged stunts in the entire film was shot – namely, where Vin Diesel’s character drives a sports car straight from the highest floors. from the tower to the adjacent one.
Twofour54 served as the film’s UAE producer. With an estimated production budget of $250 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
In the sixth installment of the acclaimed action and spy film series, Tom Cruise reprized his role as the indomitable Ethan Hunt, who is obsessed with the case of the missing plutonium cores.
The film was partly shot in the United Arab Emirates, with the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the capital’s desert among the filming locations. But what he’s perhaps best known for is the death-defying HALO jump Cruise performed 25,000 feet from a C-17 military aircraft.
Watch Hollywood star and director Christopher McQurarrie explain why Abu Dhabi was the “only place on Earth” where they could have pulled it off:
Two sequels, Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 – both with scenes filmed in the capital of the United Arab Emirates – are slated for release in 2023 and 2024 respectively.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Some of the scenes for the 2015 American epic space opera film were shot in Abu Dhabi’s westernmost region, Al Dhafra – in the world’s largest unbroken mass of sand, the Rub’ al Khali ( also known as the Empty Quarter). The mysterious and ethereal landscape of Al Wathba Fossil Dunes also played a role in the film.
Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens boasts an ensemble cast that includes Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, and more.
A combination of Abu Dhabi’s diverse desert landscapes and extensive state-of-the-art production infrastructure provided the perfect formula for the film, ensuring filming went smoothly and on schedule. The global cinematic phenomenon premiered in December 2015 and quickly became the fastest film to gross over US$1 billion.
The satirical comedy War Machine was filmed for 22 days in Abu Dhabi in late 2015. Released in 2017, it stars Brad Pitt, Anthony Michael Hall, Tilda Swinton and Ben Kingsley.
Filming took place in 20 locations around the capital of the United Arab Emirates, transforming parts of Abu Dhabi to create a fictional American embassy in Kabul. Scenes were filmed at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC), in remote areas of the Abu Dhabi desert, and at Abu Dhabi Airport.
The film was inspired by the bestselling book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying History of America’s War in Afghanistan by the late American journalist Michael Hastings.
The Kingdom is a 2007 American action thriller film directed by Peter Berg. In September 2007, an all-star cast – including Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner – traveled to the United Arab Emirates to shoot scenes from the set in Saudi Arabia.
During the two weeks of filming in the capital Abu Dhabi, they shot scenes both in the desert and at the iconic Emirates Palace.
The film is based on the incident of the 1996 bombing of the residential compound in Khobar and the 2003 bombings of four compounds in Riyadh.
This 2021 action flick saw award-winning actor Pierce Brosnan and the rest of the crew spend several weeks filming in Abu Dhabi.
In 2019, while on location, the star gave his hundreds of thousands of Instagram fans a glimpse of the spooky cast on set.
“Our new Abu Dhabi family looks after us all with such Aloha…Inshallah,” he wrote at the time.
The Misfits follows a master architect (played by Brosnan) who gets caught up in a major gold heist.