Producer Barrie Osborne cast Keanu Reeves as the messiah in The Matrix and helped defeat the dark lord Sauron in his record-breaking Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now the Oscar-winning American film-maker is set to embark on his most perilous quest to date: making a big-screen biopic of the prophet Muhammad.
Budgeted at around $150m (£91.5m), the film will chart Muhammad’s life and examine his teachings. Osborne told Reuters that he envisages it as “an international epic production aimed at bridging cultures. The film will educate people about the true meaning of Islam“.
The project was announced yesterday at an event here attended by Osborne, along with renowned Doha-based Islamic scholar Dr Yousuf Al Qaradawi and Ahmed Al Hashemi, chairman of Alnoor Holdings.
“I am inspired by this opportunity to bring such epic entertainment to the world and excited by the chance to inspire and enlighten by bringing the story of one of history’s greatest figures to audiences around the world,” said Osborne.
Qaradawi will lead the research and serve as technical consultant on the film.
Al Hashemi stressed the importance of making a film on the Prophet for the global audience. “There are more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide and Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. The story of the Prophet has great contemporary relevance for Muslims and non-Muslims alike and Alnoor is delighted to announce it as our first project.”
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Alnoor Holdings (“Alnoor” or “Group”) was formally launched on Saturday with the aim of taking advantage of the growing economic importance of audio-visual entertainment and becoming the most dominant international media and entertainment player
Alnoor, which was set up this year to take advantage of opportunities in the entertainment sector, focuses on international film production, Arabic production and animation and wants to acquire distressed assets in the U.S. and British film industries.
Raja Sharif, vice president of international projects at Alnoor, told Reuters in a telephone interview he expected to conclude deals next year.
He said the company was not interested in large studios but was targeting distributors, sales agents and possibly post-production and production facilities.
Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, aims to become a cultural hub in the region. Earlier this week, it held the first Tribeca Doha Film Festival attended by regional and international filmmakers, stars, agents and distributors.