The heat is on: Summertime entertainment highlights

The heat is on: Summertime entertainment highlights
“House of the Dragon” will be out on August 21 on HBO. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 10 June 2022

The heat is on: Summertime entertainment highlights

The heat is on: Summertime entertainment highlights
  • The biggest movies, TV shows and video games coming your way this summer


The major blockbuster from the Marvel Cinematic Universe this summer is “Thor: Love and Thunder,” (July 8). Taika Waititi is back behind the camera for a direct sequel to 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok.” Thor takes on a new adversary, Goor the God Butcher — played by Christian Bale; a character that looks to have more than a hint of Lord Voldemort from the “Harry Potter” movies about him. Thor is also reunited with an old flame, Jane Foster, who now wields a reconstructed version of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. The “Guardians of the Galaxy” crew also make an appearance.

In terms of box-office, Marvel’s closest challenger might come from another Disney subsidiary, Pixar. The animation studio’s “Lightyear” (June 17) tells the origin story of Buzz Lightyear from the “Toy Story” movies. It’s a shameless cash-in, like the “Star Wars” spin-offs, but the “Toy Story” team have barely put a foot wrong over four movies now, so we’re still definitely going to watch it.

For action fans, comedy thriller “Bullet Train” (August 5), in which Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug, an accomplished assassin trying to change his ways, looks like a must-see. He’s tasked with lifting a briefcase from a bullet train heading to Kyoto from Tokyo. Things get tricky when he discovers that his fellow passengers include several competing assassins all with connecting objectives.

Netflix’s big contender, meanwhile, is “The Gray Man” (July 15). With a $200 million budget, it’s the streaming giant’s most expensive film yet, and has the pedigree to match. Brothers Anthony and Joseph Russo direct (their CV includes four MCU movies) Ryan Gosling as Court Gentry — a deadly mercenary who works with the CIA. But when he discovers some secrets the agency would prefer to keep hidden, he becomes a target for numerous hitmen himself, including his psychotic former colleague Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans, clearly relishing a villainous role after years as that most vanilla of superheroes, Captain America).

Horror fans will be looking forward “The Black Phone” (June 24), in which Ethan Hawke plays a serial killer snatching children in a small town. His sixth victim discovers a phone in his room, through which he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. Then there’s the latest from Jordan Peale’s twisted mind, “Nope” (July 22). Details have been kept closely guarded, but we know it’s a sci-fi crossover in which residents of an isolated town are traumatized by the presence of a UFO.

Other summer movie highlights include Elvis Presley biopic “Elvis” (June 24); “The Man From Toronto” (August 12), an action-comedy starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson; and “Three Thousand Years of Longing” (August 21) in which Tilda Swinton plays a scholar who encounters a Djinn (Idris Elba) in Istanbul. The great George Miller (the “Mad Max” franchise) directs.


Since “Game of Thrones” ended, fantasy fans have had little to be excited about. But this summer might change that. First up is the long-awaited “GoT” prequel series, “House of the Dragon” (August 21 on HBO, and presumably OSN regionally). Based on George R.R. Martin’s 2018 novel “Fire and Blood,” the series — co-created by Martin — tells the story of the fall of House Targaryen.

Perhaps the only fantasy writer with similar pop-culture cachet to Martin is the late J.R.R. Tolkien. So fans really are spoiled for choice this year with the launch of Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” in September. Developed in cooperation with the author’s estate, the show is set in the Second Age of Middle Earth — millennia before the events of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” — and covers the forging of the Rings of Power and the rise of Sauron.

Returning shows worth checking out include season two of whip-smart mystery-comedy “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu, June 28), season three of Netflix’s quirky superhero series “The Umbrella Academy” (June 22), the fourth season of the dystopian sci-fi Western “Westworld” (HBO, June 22), and the second season of the understated comedy drama about Native American teenagers “Reservation Dogs” (August 3).

And there are several new shows we’re eager to catch — top of the list being Kuwait-born Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer’s Netflix sitcom “Mo” (August 24), in which Amer plays Mo Najjar, a Palestinian refugee in Texas who’s unable to access healthcare or keep a job for long because of his immigration status — despite having spent the majority of his life in the US.

Elsewhere, we’re intrigued by Disney+’s “She-Hulk: Attorney-at-law” (August 17), which stars Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) in the title role; Hulu’s “The Patient” (August 30) starring Steve Carrell as a therapist treating a serial killer; and “Loot” (Apple TV+, June 24), a comedy starring Maya Rudolph as a billionaire brought into the media spotlight by her husband’s infidelity, who decides to get heavily involved with her charity foundation (a foundation she previously knew next-to-nothing about).


It doesn’t seem like 2022 will be a vintage summer for gamers. In a fairly sparse field, there are a few titles worth looking out for, though. For a start, the brilliant indie run-and-gun shooter “Cuphead” has a DLC add-on adventure “The Delicious Last Course” coming June 30, offering more surrealist antics for the titular ‘hero,’ charged with repossessing souls owed to the devil after himself losing big at the devil’s casino. Speaking of returns for beloved characters, “Sonic Origins” (June 23) is a remaster (with some additional missions) of the first four games in the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise — offering a trip down memory lane for veterans, and a meaty chunk of throwback goodness for new fans drawn in by the recent movies. That whole “media synergy” thing will also be on show in September, when “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum” is released the day before Amazon’s super-expensive TV series. The action-adventure follows the adventures of the twisted ring-carrier prior to the events of “The Hobbit.”

“Stray” is finally going to appear on July 19. (Supplied)

We’ve been looking forward to the long-delayed “Stray” for a while, and it’s finally going to appear on July 19. It’s a third-person adventure game in which you play as a cat who has to navigate a dystopian world of machines and viruses in order to return to your family.

Other noteworthy releases include survival horror “Fobia: St. Dinfna Hotel” (June 30); “Xenoblade Chronicles 3” (July 29), the latest installment of the Nintendo Switch RPG; Square Enix’s co-op shooter “Outriders: Worldslayer” (June 30); and — for gearheads — EA Sports’ “F1 22” (July 1).

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM attracts first Bollywood shoot with ‘Dunki’

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM attracts first Bollywood shoot with ‘Dunki’
‘Dunki’ stars Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM attracts first Bollywood shoot with ‘Dunki’

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM attracts first Bollywood shoot with ‘Dunki’

DUBAI: NEOM has attracted its first Bollywood shoot, with “Dunki,” starring Shah Rukh Khan, having filmed at the location.

The announcement was made at the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah on Sunday, with Wayne Borg, the managing director of NEOM, adding that 200-episode-a-year Saudi soap opera “Exceptional,” produced by MBC, would also be shot at one of the region’s new sound stages.


A post shared by Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk)

Borg also addressed nearby competitor Abu Dhabi, which has turned into a hotspot for Hollywood shoots in recent years, saying: “I think our ambitions are much greater than theirs,” according to Variety.

Neom has hosted an estimated 26 productions over the past 18 months, including “Desert Warrior,” which stars US actor Anthony Mackie and is directed by Rupert Wyatt.

Saudi director highlights mental health struggles in ‘Lucky You Are Mine’ at RSIFF

Saudi director highlights mental health struggles in ‘Lucky You Are Mine’ at RSIFF
The film, inspired by true events, is a love story between a newlywed Saudi couple. (Supplied)
Updated 04 December 2022

Saudi director highlights mental health struggles in ‘Lucky You Are Mine’ at RSIFF

Saudi director highlights mental health struggles in ‘Lucky You Are Mine’ at RSIFF

JEDDAH: Saudi director Nora Aboushousha’s film “Lucky You Are Mine,” which sheds light on mental illness in Saudi Arabia, is screening at the Red Sea International Film Festival. 

The film, inspired by true events, is a love story between a newlywed Saudi couple who are working through their struggles to keep their bond alive and thriving. 

Aboushousha chose to represent mental health in her film because of the tremendous struggle the person affected, and people around them, go through. 

“Let alone if they lack the knowledge. As I watched more people around me and loved ones suffer from mental breakdowns, depression and anxiety, I started to notice how big of an impact it has not only on the lives of those suffering but their loved ones too. I witnessed a few relationships come to an end because of mental health issues,” she said. 

“Then I saw two (people) who decided to weather the storm ... it touched me and inspired me,” she added. 

Aboushousha said that stories in general have always been a means of escape and comfort for her. She has been touched by many writers; some films and books have helped her through tough times while others have shaped her personality. “Maybe my film can do the same to others,” the director said. 

The film's poster. (Supplied)

Aboushousha said that the challenges she faced were not gender specific, and her being a woman in the field did not make a difference. “The biggest challenge we faced was filming during Ramadan when most of talent and crew were booked with bigger projects.”

While making the film, Aboushousha enjoyed the support of her cast and crew, friends and family, and even some of the professionals in the industry whom she had never worked with offered help and advice when needed. 

“Raghad Al-Faisand and Hasan Qudus were generous with their time. We rehearsed daily for almost a month, in which Hasan would travel from Makkah to do the rehearsals,” she said. 

Speaking about some of the challenges, Aboushousha said that the “editor who was going to edit the film found himself stuck in Ramadan season, and my friend Ali Al-Attas volunteered to edit.”

Riyadh’s Hia Hub 2022 looking to go bigger and better, says editor-in-chief

Riyadh’s Hia Hub 2022 looking to go bigger and better, says editor-in-chief
The 3-day program will take place in Riyadh’s historic Ad-Diriyah from Dec. 8-10. (Supplied)
Updated 04 December 2022

Riyadh’s Hia Hub 2022 looking to go bigger and better, says editor-in-chief

Riyadh’s Hia Hub 2022 looking to go bigger and better, says editor-in-chief
  • Magazine’s annual conference is back with 2nd edition
  • 3-day program in Riyadh’s historic Ad-Diriyah to take place from Dec. 8-10

DUBAI: Expanding on a successful platform built in 2021, Hia magazine’s Hia Hub 2022 will offer more interactive experiences and celebrity talks at the event’s second edition in Riyadh, editor-in-chief Mia Badr told Arab News.

“Since its inception, Hia magazine has been in the service of representing and catering to the Arab woman, particularly the Saudi woman who is sophisticated, discerning, complex and multi-dimensional. Throughout our journey, we have always championed her voice, told her stories, engaged and inspired her with insightful and thought-provoking writing and exciting fashion trends. That said, Hia Hub was envisioned as a platform to bridge international and regional audiences," said Mia Badr, editor-in-chief of Hia Magazine, in an interview with Arab News.

“We are celebrating our 30-year anniversary this year, along with our second season of Hia Hub, and there is no other place that would be better suited than to host the event where it all started, and where it will continue to flourish and grow — here in Saudi Arabia,” she added.

Badr said that the event is meant to reshape the boundaries of “leadership, entrepreneurship and creativity for the Hia fashion community.”

With the fashion industry exploding and growing at an exponential rate in Saudi Arabia, Badr is excited for Hia Hub to be at the center of the conversation.

“Local designers are gaining traction with brands and designers such as Mohammed Ashi gaining critical acclaim from global media; Hindamme; Mohammad Khoja’s brand currently has pieces on display in London’s V&A Museum; you’ve got young trailblazers like Arwa Al-Banawi, known for her fresh and contemporary RTW namesake brand who has collaborated with Adidas and Levi’s; all of them are making an impact on their home turf and gaining recognition on a wider scale,” said Badr.

When asked about her favorite speakers from this edition’s lineup, Badr refused to play favorites. “They are all exceptional in their respective fields, so it really comes down to what particular topic you are interested in. We’ve covered all topics of interest and relevance from female leadership, to how to build a beauty brand, sustainability, the rise of craftsmanship in culture, the new generation of creatives impacting the fashion sphere, styling and make up workshops and so much … there’s really something for everyone, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that they are all great!”

Some of the big-name speakers expected to attend the event include US fashion designer Zac Posen, iconic Hollywood stylist Law Roach, Emirati singer Balqees Fathi, French Moroccan fashion designer Charaf Tajer, celebrity stylist Cedric Haddad and Iraqi US beauty mogul Mona Kattan.

The speakers and topics were chosen with the cultural resonance in the region in mind. “We made it a point to have representation and diversity, inviting professional candidates from the region as well as from abroad to ensure a broad spectrum and different points of view for candid and thought-provoking conversations,” said Badr.

Guests can learn more about Hia Hub by visiting

‘The Last Queen’ director talks pandemic delays, Red Sea premiere

‘The Last Queen’ director talks pandemic delays, Red Sea premiere
A still from the film. (Supplied)
Updated 04 December 2022

‘The Last Queen’ director talks pandemic delays, Red Sea premiere

‘The Last Queen’ director talks pandemic delays, Red Sea premiere

DUBAI: When French Algerian director Damien Ounouri was in his late teens, he knew he wanted to go into filmmaking. It was the 1990s and Ounouri consumed films by major Western directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Brian De Palma.  

“For me, a new world opened in front of my eyes,” Ounouri told Arab News. “I felt that it was what I wanted to do in my life — to express my point of view, to tell stories and try to create emotions.” 

Fast-forward to 2022 and he is showcasing his latest directorial effort, “The Last Queen” — co-directed with lead star Adila Bendimerad — at Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival, which partly funded the project.  

The film has already been screened at film festivals in Venice, Montpellier and Hamburg, but the Dec. 5 screening marks its MENA region premiere.  

“The Red Sea Film Festival is quite important because it’s the MENA premiere,” Ounouri said. “We didn't screen it in Algeria yet. . . It's a new, natural market.”  

Set in 1516, “The Last Queen” is a historical drama, narrating the story of the legendary Queen Zaphira (played by Bendimerad), wife of the last king of Algiers, who defends her people against the arrival of the conquering pirate Barbarossa. 

“We don't know if she existed,” says Ounouri. “In Algiers, her story is well-known. . . Adila told me about her story, saying that this queen was fighting Barbarossa. Zaphira existed in books since the 17th century. With Adila, we worked a lot with a film that has a feminine angle. For me, it's not feminism, it's just humanism.”  

To properly capture this ancient era on film, shooting took place in Algeria's museums, mosques and palaces in the cities of Algiers and Tlemcen. The film is full of sumptuous costumes — around 2,000 outfits were made for the production.

The film was shot in Algeria's historic locations. (Supplied)

Shooting began in March 2020, but everything ground to a halt due to the pandemic and filming resumed in October 2021. “There was a lot of pressure,” said Ounouri on the intervening period. “But we used this time to push the details and the quality. During one year-and-a-half, we worked a lot more on the set design and costumes and the film is better now.” 

Dior Men presents Celestial collection in Cairo  

Dior Men presents Celestial collection in Cairo  
The showcase was set against the majestic backdrop of Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2022

Dior Men presents Celestial collection in Cairo  

Dior Men presents Celestial collection in Cairo  

DUBAI: Hollywood star and Dior global ambassador Robert Pattinson was on the front row as the label presented its Celestial collection on Saturday, set against the majestic backdrop of Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza. 


A post shared by Dior Official (@dior)

Kim Jones, the creative director of Dior Men, had 75 models present new looks from the French fashion house. 

Other famous faces spotted at the event included South Korean rapper Sehun, South Korean singer, actor and model Cha Eun-woo, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, Scottish actor Thomas Doherty and British supermodel Naomi Campbell. 

The show took place in front of the Pyramids of Giza. (AFP)

Stars from the Middle East included Tunisian actor and filmmaker Dhafer L’Abidine, Egyptian actor Amr Youssef and Egyptian Canadian “Aladdin” actor Mena Massoud. 

A model hits the runway in Dior Men's latest collection. (AFP)