MBC, the Saudi-owned Middle East TV giant, is to co-produce and co-finance the upcoming Gerard Butler action thriller Kandahar, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

While no figures were provided, Peter Smith, managing director of MBC's production arm MBC Studios, told THR that the company was making a "substantial investment" in the film.

First announced at the virtual Cannes market in 2020, Kandahar reunites Butler with his Angel Has Fallen and Greenland director Ric Roman Waugh, who directs from a screenplay he wrote with former military intelligence officer Mitchell LaFortune.

The film — based on LaFortune’s experiences at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan at the time of the Edward Snowden leaks — will see Butler star as an undercover CIA operative working in the Middle East whose classified mission and covert identity are exposed. Stuck in the heart of hostile territory, he must fight his way out of the desert alongside his translator to an extraction point while eluding the elite special forces hunting them.

THR understands that Kandahar is set to shoot later this year in Saudi Arabia in the country's AlUlA region, which recently launched a new commission to promote itself as a filming destination.

Kandahar is being produced by Thunder Road Films’ Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee, G-Base’s Alan Siegel and Butler, and Christian Mercuri of The Capstone Group, which is also co-financing and handled international sales in Cannes, where the film sold internationally, including major territories such as France (Metropolitan) and Germany (Leonine). Rob Moran will executive produce along with Brendon Boyea and Jonathan Fuhrman.

Capstone is also co-financing the project, while CAA Media Finance arranged the financing and is representing the film’s U.S. rights.