A new Hollywood film will focus on Saudi Arabia’s oil discovery, which went on to create the world’s most profitable company.
Los Angeles-based Passage Pictures will produce ‘Sands of Fortune’, a historical drama about American geologist Max Steineke and Bedouin Khamis bin Rimthan, who built the country’s first oil well in 1938.
Bernie Campbell, a speechwriter and strategist in Saudi Arabia, wrote the film’s script.
According to Passage Pictures, ‘Sands of Fortune’ will star Americans and Saudis. The corporation told Deadline it is also in talks to work with local production companies.
Saudi Arabia discovered oil at 1,440 meters in the Dammam oilfield in March 1938. Aramco’s website says it began in 1933 with a “Concession Agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL)”. This deal was managed by CASOC, a subsidiary.”
Chief geologist Steineke was hired to drill for oil. In ‘Birth of a Dream’, Aramco’s former CEO and President Thomas C. Barger identified local guide Khamis bin Rimthan as one of three employed by the team to aid with fieldwork in the May/June 1984 print edition of Saudi Aramco World magazine.
Barger said that Rimthan’s unique understanding of Saudi Arabia’s Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) led to the finding.
According to its official history, Aramco was founded in 1938 after the discovery of oil in the Dammam No. 7 well, afterwards nicknamed the ‘Prosperity Well’.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, announced a net profit of 112.81 billion riyals (USD 30.07 billion) for Q2 2023, which ended June 30. Fortune magazine declared Saudi Aramco the most profitable in the world this month with USD 159 billion, the highest annual total for a Fortune Global 500 business.
The Saudi government has been actively marketing the country’s entertainment environment through high-profile collaborations and state-backed funds to attract foreign players.
In May, Saudi Arabia’s Cultural Development Fund announced two grants worth USD 180 million to strengthen the local film sector and attract Hollywood studios to the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.
Besides funding, Saudi Arabia offers a tax rebate on film shoots, similar to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, that provides up to 40% cash-back for productions that recruit crew and talent from the kingdom and promote its culture and geography.