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An unnamed Qatari film producer is in talks to finance a $150m movie trilogy based on children’s classic Treasure Island.

The three film project already has a script and a director attached. Filming is scheduled to begin in November this year and casting is underway, with Robert Downey Jr – star of the blockbusters Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes - top of the filmmakers’ wish list to play villain Long John Silver.

“We have somebody in Qatar at the moment who is a very experienced producer of multi-million dollar pictures and we are involved in setting up a franchise based on Treasure Island, which would be a key picture deal,” Douglas Rae, managing director and executive producer of Ecosse Films, told Arabian Business.

Ecosse, a UK-based independent film producer, is searching for partner to finance the adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale.

The company is behind a string of critical and commercial successes, including ‘Mrs Brown’, starring Judy Dench, ‘Charlotte Gray’, with Cate Blanchett, and Jane Austin biopic ‘Becoming Jane’, with Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy. In 2007, the film ‘White Horse’, a children’s adventure, took over $100m at the box office.

According to Rae, it is becoming more common for filmmakers to target the Middle East and the region has become the focus for some big players in the industry.

“We are trying to establish a relationship with film funds which are increasingly being generated out of the Middle East,” he said.

California-based William Morris Endeavor (WME), the second largest talent agency in the world, has an independent division and currently represents a number of funds from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Dubai which are interested in financing film projects. WME also represents Ecosse.

In turn, many Middle Eastern funds have also begun looking to the film sector for a return on investment. In 2008, the Abu Dhabi Media Company launched Imagenation and has committed $100m to developing, producing and financing ten to fifteen films by 2013. Last year, it announced it was involved in funding a political thriller starring Sean Penn and an epic prison movie starring Colin Farrell and Ed Harris.

Qatar’s Alnoor Holdings, owned by the Al-Hashemi group, has also committed to financing movies and said it is aiming to ”becoming the most dominant international media and entertainment player”.

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