Saudi businessman behind controversial new Princess Diana movie

Exclusive: Arab invested in biopic, starring Naomi Watts, which has received scathing reviews from the British press
The movie is based on

The movie is based on "Diana: Her Last Love", a book by author Kate Snell published in 2000.

A UK-based Saudi businessman was one of the investors behind the controversial new film showcasing the final two years of the life of Britain’s Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in Paris in 1997, a producer behind the movie confirmed to Arabian Business.

“Diana had investment from a Saudi businessman but based in UK. He owns a French based distribution company. Apart from that we have none,” Douglas Rae, managing director and executive producer of Ecosse Films, the production company behind the film, said when asked if any Arab investment had been involved in the financing of the film.

British-born Australian actress Naomi Watts stars in the film, which received its red carpet world premiere in London on September 5 and will be released in the UK on September 20 and in the US on November 1.

The movie is based on "Diana: Her Last Love", a book by author Kate Snell published in 2000, which argues that the estranged wife of British heir Prince Charles had a two year relationship with Pakistani doctor Hasnat Khan before being killed in the infamous car crash in Paris.

The film has not been warmly received and the British tabloids - who followed every twist and turn from Diana's 1981 marriage to Prince Charles, to their divorce and her death in a 1997 Paris car crash - were scathing about the film from German director Oliver Hirschbiegel.

"The Queen of Hearts has been recast as a sad-sack singleton that even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid," wrote the Mirror's David Edwards in a one-star review dubbing the film a "cheap and cheerless effort".

Producers Ecosse Films, which also worked on films such as 2011’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, 2007’s ‘Becoming Jane’ and 1997’s ‘Mrs Brown’, are currently looking for Arab backers for a $150m film trilogy based around the Treasure Island books.

“Treasure Island still seeks investment... [for] have potential funding opportunities,” Rae said.

In February 2010, Rae told Arabian Business an unnamed Qatari film producer is in talks to finance the adaption of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale.

At the time, Rae had hoped to start filming in 2010 November and actor Robert Downey Jr – star of the blockbusters Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes – was top of the filmmakers’ wish list to play villain Long John Silver.

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