I visited the world’s largest film studio, where Moroccan locals are cast as everyone from Osama Bin Laden to Jesus and the desert is littered with the wreckage of ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Gladiator’


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Atlas Film Studios is a 322,000 square-foot studio in southwestern Morocco that is considered to be the largest film studio in the world.
More than 200 major films and television shows have filmed there, including “Gladiator,” “Ben Hur,” “Kingdom of Heaven,” “The Mummy,” “The Passion of the Christ,” and, most recently, “Game of Thrones” and “Aladdin.”
Located in a stunning red desert landscape, Atlas is often used for its dramatic landscapes, the relative cheap cost of production, and its promixity to the striking medieval ksar of Aït Benhaddou, also a popular filming location.
I recently visited and it was a strange place strewn with the elaborate replicas of biblical towns, Egyptian temples, Tibetan monasteries, and more. It’s very weird, but definitely worth the visit.

Think about any biblical or historical epic you’ve ever seen. There’s probably a barren landscape of soft golden-red rocks, mud brick buildings, and thatched straw roofs.

From “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Noah,” and “The Passion of the Christ,” to “Ben Hur,” “Gladiator,” and “Kingdom of Heaven,” the landscape is the same. There’s a reason for that.

They were all filmed near Ouarzazate, a desert city in southwestern Morocco, that is known as “the door of the desert.”

Just outside Ouarzazate lies Atlas Film Studios, a 322,000-square-foot property that is considered to be one of, if not, the biggest film studio in the world.

Founded in 1983 by Moroccan entrepreneur Mohamed Belghmi for the filming of the 1985 action-adventure film “The Jewel of the Nile,” Atlas has since become a premier destination to film big budget blockbuster films thanks to the area’s dramatic landscapes, the relative cheap cost of production, and its promixity to the striking medieval ksar of Aït Benhaddou, also a popular filming location.

Most recently, Atlas Film Studios was used for filming scenes in “Game of Thrones” and Disney’s upcoming live-action “Aladdin,” starring Will Smith.

On a recent trip to Morocco, I decided to make a stop in Ouarzazate to check out Atlas Studios. It was about as strange a place as I’ve ever been to.

Here’s what it was like:

SEE ALSO: An otherworldly desert in Jordan has doubled as distant planets in movies like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Martian’ — after seeing it myself, I can tell you it’s just as breathtaking in person

DON’T MISS: I rang in the New Year at an all-night rave in the Moroccan desert. It left Times Square in the dust.

Ouarzazate lies about 125 miles or so from Marrakech, where most people start their trip to Morocco. After driving for hours through winding mountain passes, I came upon the desert town. It’s a barren landscape.

A few miles outside of the town lies Atlas Studios, opened in 1983 by Moroccan entrepreneur Mohamed Belghmi. It is now run by Amine Tazi, who owns Atlas Studios and nearby CLA Studios.

When Atlas isn’t being used by crews to film movies, it’s open to visitors for only $5 a ticket.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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