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Egypt’s MENA news agency on Saturday reported that Hanks had started shooting the film — based on the novel by Dave Eggers — having arrived in the country last week. Local newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm added that Hanks had slept aboard a yacht in the Red Sea during production, with the actor telling the publication that it was his first visit to the area.
Kamal Abdel Aziz, president of the Egypt’s National Film Center as well as a director of photography, confirmed that Hanks is leaving the country Monday.
“He finished everything that was needed, and everything went well,” he told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the shoot had used underwater cameras in the Red Sea, a popular diving resort that has seen its international visitors number decline in recent years following Egypt’s 2011 revolution.
“We need to show that shooting in Egypt is easy for foreign productions,” said Abdel Aziz. “We want to welcome international films to shoot by the Pyramids, the Nile, the Red Sea, the desert, Alexandria. We have a variety of locations.”
As part of this new drive to attract international productions, Abdel Aziz claimed that the National Film Centre pushed through all the necessary permission documents for A Hologram for the King in 72 hours. “It’s a new change for us, from the Egyptian Film Centre,” he said. “It’s now very easy to come in and out with equipment.”
In addition to Hanks’ shoot, Abdel Aziz claimed that Egypt recently welcomed a team from Ridley Scott‘s upcoming biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings to film in Luxor. “They stayed for about 10 days,” he said.
Written and directed by Tom Tykwer, A Hologram for the King is adapted from Eggers’ 2012 book about a struggling U.S. businessman who travels to Saudi Arabia in a desperate attempt to secure an I.T. equipment contract with the King Abdullah Economic City being built near Jeddah.
The cast also includes Sarita Choudhury (Homeland), Omar Elba (Intelligence), Tracey Fairaway (Enough Said), David Menkin (Zero Dark Thirty) and Tom Skerritt (Ted, Top Gun). Shooting began in Morocco last month, while The Hollywood Reporter offered the first exclusive image from the film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
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