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THE KINGDOM

About The Production
Peter Berg conceived of the idea for The Kingdom a decade ago, after watching news coverage of the infamous June 25, 1996, Khobar Towers terrorist attack in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Hezbollah exploded a fuel truck that slaughtered 19 Americans, a Saudi national and wounded 372 people of many nationalities in one of the most brutal anti-American attacks ever staged in that region.

Berg recalls of the attack that affected U.S. relations with its Saudi allies: "It was an act of terrorism that targeted Americans, and was felt painfully by Saudis as well. It led to the FBI trying to work for the first time with Saudi law enforcement, which proved to be a complicated and tricky investigative effort. I thought it would be a fascinating idea for a film, to watch how the American and Arab cultures—both targets of religious violence and sharing a common interest in battling religious extremism—navigate differences, suspicions and politics to try and work together.”

Over the next few years, the idea would gestate as Berg developed a dual career as actor and filmmaker, helming notable box-office hits from The Rundown to Friday Night Lights. The concept would also gel in the scores of conversations he and a close Saudi friend had about the political realities and complexities of Arab-American relations. And then came September 11, 2001.

"After 9/11, there was so much anti-Saudi sentiment in the States, because so many of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia; Osama was Saudi. But, it wasn't reflected in my relationships with Saudis I knew.” The director believed that there was no better time to make a film that "looks at the joint Arab and American fight against violent extremism.”

He wanted to create an action-thriller that presented two worlds working together, "through the friendship that develops between two men from very different cultures—an FBI agent and a Saudi colonel.” And he would find that material during Summer 2003. In June 2003, Berg approached Mann in his office next door and asked if he'd produce the project through his Forward Pass production company. Mann was producing The Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese, and liked the idea of working with strong directors with authoritative visions. The screenwriter Berg had in mind was a 30-yearold unknown named Matthew Michael Carnahan, who had written a scorching drama titled Soldier Field—which told the story of a Chicago police officer pitted against the Mafia and the Russian mob. Mann had read Carnahan's Soldier Field.

Berg responded to the strategic ways in which Carnahan crafted action, and knew he was the man for the job. "He's a politically savvy guy, but he also writes kick-ass action,” the director says. "We didn't want to make a film that fundamentally existed as a political exposé. We wanted a film that was entertaining and muscular with strong action, yet was fair in capturing the politics of the times.” Mann and Berg took the story to Universal Pictures.

Mann, long known for his catalogue of explosive thrillers and smart dramas, was curious to explore a "procedural homicide investigation done in the most hostile of circumstances.” He thought there would be great dramatic tension in the knowledge that, for ops-leader Ronald Fleury, "they don't want you there; your government doesn't want you to be there. And all of that forces a collision, and eventually, a fraternal loyalty between two law enforcement officials.”

The celebrated filmmaker believed there was no better way to examine political, global and regional issues than by examining them through the experience of a homicide detective. He offers, "When violence happens, it is truly traumatic on the personal level. That's why we wanted to ground this whole story inside the day-to-day experience of two exceptionally skilled police types who are also average<

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