Out of Africa

A look at some of the recent projects to utilize South Africa's versatile locales and services.

The Deal
William H. Macy and his longtime writing partner, Steven Schachter, adapted this comedy-drama from Peter Lefcourt's "The Deal: A Novel of Hollywood." Macy plays Charlie Berns, a down-and-out Hollywood producer who cons a major studio into financing a $100 million film based on a nonexistent script starring a black action star who has converted to Judaism. Local production house Moonlighting lured the production to South Africa after it was meant to shoot in Romania. Meg Ryan co-stars in the film, which Schachter directs.

Flashbacks of a Fool
Daniel Craig segues from James Bond to a very different role as a hedonistic movie star facing a midlife crisis, whose life unfurls in flashbacks before him as he returns from his best friend's funeral. The film is written and directed by music video veteran Baillie Walsh and includes South Africa's Genevieve Hofmeyr among its producers. The cast features Helen McCrory, Olivia Williams and Mark Strong. "Flashbacks" also boasts artwork by British bad boy artist Damian Hirst. Arclight Films is handling international sales, with Buena Vista taking U.K. rights.

Les Deux Mondes(The Two Worlds)
Daniel Cohen wrote and directed this comedy about a French tradesman who travels in time and liberates an oppressed tribe. Starring French comic Benoit Poelvoorde, the film is now in postproduction in France, where it will be released theatrically later this year. Gaumont is handling international sales.

The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian
Shot in Cape Town, this prequel to Universal's 2002 actioner "The Scorpion King" tells the back story of Mathayus (played in the first film by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who doesn't appear in the sequel), depicting how he became a great warrior and eventually the Scorpion King. Russell Mulcahy ("Highlander") directs the film, which is co-produced by David Wicht of Film Afrika.

Spoon
Writer-directors Simon Hansen and Sharlto Copley are the forces behind this supernatural thriller about a man with a medical condition that causes him to black out during moments of extreme stress and leads him to make a remarkable discovery about himself. Insiders at Cape Town-based Atomic Visual Effects said they could afford massive crowd scenes, extensive CGI graphics and to shoot for 62 days on a very tight budget because every aspect of film development, production and post was monitored on linked databases. Rutger Hauer (1982's "Blade Runner") stars. Anant Singh of Distant Horizons is handling international distribution.

Starship Troopers: Marauders
Ed Neumeier wrote and directs the latest installation of Sony's "Starship Troopers" franchise, in which the war against the bugs continues. This time around, Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) leads a rescue mission after a Federation starship crash-lands on a distant alien planet.
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