Monday, October 19, 2015

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Abu Dhabi: The story so far


With Star Trek Beyond wrapping shooting in Dubai in the early hours of Friday morning (October 16), film fans in the UAE could be forgiven for expecting a bit of a break, but far from it. With the warp drive having barely cooled down from the Starship Enterprise’s departure from Dubai, it’s time for the tanks to roll into Abu Dhabi, with the Netflix-funded, Brad Pitt-starring, David Michod-directed War Machine set to go into production this week.

Details on the latest celebrity vehicle to roll into the Emirates are still less certain than for some of the previous shoots. With most of the production set to take place in the desert, it certainly looks less likely that we’ll see whole sections of the capital taken over by filming as was the case in Dubai International Financial Centre, aka Star Fleet HQ, last week, or with Jackie Chan’s regular visits to Dubai’s Atlantis and Downtown district - Chan’s Kung Fu Yoga iss till shooting in Dubai. Here’s what we do know so far.

The local production crew from twofour54 Abu Dhabi will be welcoming the cast and crew to town this week – the main shooting dates appear to be from October 21-November 16, at least these are the dates the hopeful extras from recent casting calls in Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ain have been asked to keep clear for filming. Of course it’s entirely possible that some pre-production and shooting could take place before or after this dates, but that seems to be the main bulk of the shoot. Local extras will be asked to play both members of the US military, and afghan villagers.

Brad Pitt may not be here for all of the shoot, and local sources have told us he isn’t expected during the shoot’s first few days. Sources close to the UK crew have claimed that Pitt’s role in the Abu Dhabi shoot is a fairly minor one visiting troops (this makes sense as Pitt is playing a general, and in modern warfare generals tend to spend more time in an office than in the desert with their troops. The Abu Dhabi section could be mostly footage of troops on the ground in Afghanistan, perhaps with a morale boosting visit by Pitt’s General McMahon included.)

Indeed, it looks like Pitt may not even be in Abu Dhabi for the duration of the shoot once he arrives. His new movie, co-starring and directed by wife Angelina Jolie, By the Sea is due to premiere by opening the American Film Institute Festival in Hollywood on November 5, with reports online claiming that the two stars will be in attendance. Pitt has a second movie, The Big Short, alongside Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell set to premiere as the festival’s closing film on November 12, so that’s two dates for the diary when Pitt may not be in Abu Dhabi.

Angelina Jolie, along with the couple’s children, is reported to be joining Pitt in Abu Dhabi for at least part of the shoot, and the couple have hired a villa close to the set to accommodate them all, rather than joining the rest of the cast and crew in hotels. The visit looks set to be a short one though. Jolie was at a charity event in Cambodia last week, where she was overheard saying she would be back in Cambodia for two weeks from October 23 for preproduction on her new movie, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. The movie is set to start shooting in Cambodia at the end of November.

If this information is correct, then a stopover in Abu Dhabi, either on her way back to London, where the couple are currently based, or before returning directly to Cambodia to shoot seems feasible, although where the trip to AFI Fest in LA on November 5 fits into this schedule is as yet unclear.

What is clear, is that it looks like it’s shaping up to be a seriously busy late October/November for the celebrity couple, and in the absence of anyone close to the pair offering us exclusive access to their diaries, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled around the capital for Pitt, Jolie and the movie’s co-stars including Will Poulter and Topher Grace in the coming days.

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