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Wadi Rum setting drives interest in 'The Martian' — cinema managers

By Dana Al Emam - Nov 28,2015 - Last updated at Nov 29,2015

AMMAN — "The Martian" has been topping moviegoers' choices at local cinemas over the past few weeks, prompting theatres to hold additional showings to accommodate a "high" number of spectators.

Representatives of cinemas in Amman said the spectators were interested in seeing how Ridley Scott’s film, which stars Matt Damon, depicted Wadi Rum as Mars using an "advanced three-dimensional technique".

"It was not until two or three weeks after the movie opened in cinemas that Jordanians developed an interest in watching it," said Khaleel Shahin, manager at Grand Cinemas Jordan, attributing the uptick in demand to the media attention given to the Wadi Rum filming location.

The film's "strong" performance at the US box office, where it has been one of the 10 best-performing productions of the year so far, was not the sole reason for the strong interest in Jordan, where theatres are showing this film up to 35 times per week, he told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

Shahin said schools are taking students to see the film, and some students return again the next day with their family.

“‘The Martian' is the best-performing movie we have shown for the past month-and-a-half," he added.

The film has been witnessing "fully booked theatres", especially on the weekend, according to Israa Ahmad, a booking agent.

Rami Raei, manager of Taj Cinema, said the film has been screened for a month and is not likely to leave the list of movies anytime soon as spectators want to see it.

"What is special about the audience of 'The Martian' is that they are from all age groups," he told The Jordan Times over the phone, adding that many visitors see the movie more than once.

Raei said the film is being shown four to five times a day, with additional shows for special groups from companies.

Many moviegoers refer to the film as "the one shot in Jordan", he added. 

Meanwhile, an employee at another major cinema in the capital said additional screenings were organised to accommodate viewers who missed out on "fully booked" shows.

Dania Hammad, a university student, said she tried to watch the film in a local cinema over the past two weekends but was unable to find a suitable show, as almost all seats were booked.

But Hammad said she is determined to watch the film and would be willing to skip a day of classes during the week if need be.

"Many of my friends and university colleagues have seen the movie and reported a really good experience," she told The Jordan Times over the phone.

"The Martian" was released in theatres in September this year and has so far made around $217 million at the US box office and some $274 million internationally.


Wadi Rum has been a popular filming location for other films set on Mars, such as the 2000 features “Mission to Mars” by director Brian De Palma and “Red Planet” by director Antony Hoffman, according to the Royal Film Commission.  

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