Morocco sees surge in foreign film productions

Morocco sees surge in foreign film productions
Actor Tom Cruise arrives in Rabat for the filming of his new movie "Mission: Impossible 5" September 25, 2014.

RABAT - From "Mission Impossible 5" with Tom Cruise to epic "Queen of the Desert" starring Nicole Kidman, Morocco is basking in a resurgence in foreign film production, an industry body said Thursday.

The North African nation welcomed 32 foreign film and TV production crews in the first nine months of 2014 from countries including the United States, France and Britain, according to the Moroccan Cinema Centre.

Investment totalled more than $105 million (83 million euros) -- a five-fold increase from 2013, it said.

Shooting for "Mission Impossible 5" closed down a stretch of the Casablanca-Agadir motorway for two weeks in August.

The film crew was also later spotted in Casablanca and Rabat.

British actor Daniel Craig is also reported to have visited the country recently along with director Sam Mendes to research the next "James Bond" film.

In "Queen of the Desert," Kidman will star alongside Robert Pattinson of "Twilight" fame in a film based on the life of British writer, traveller and cartographer Gertrude Bell.

Bell has been described as the female Lawrence of Arabia for her pioneering work in establishing the framework for what would become Jordan and Iraq.

Morocco has an illustrious history of appearing on the silver screen in productions such as "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1962, "Gladiator" in 2000 and "Babel" in 2006.

But the country saw a decline in foreign film production at the turn of the decade as the Arab Spring uprisings swept across much of North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, pushing up insurance costs.

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