Idris Elba stars in Beast, a pulse-pounding new thriller about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator. Co-starring in the film alongside Elba is South African actor, Sharlto Copley together with Iyana Halley and Leah Sava Jeffries.
The film was shot entirely in South Africa. Locations included Cape Town, Limpopo and Northern Province. The final showdown was filmed in the Northern Cape, on the Namibia border.
“You see both South Africa and Namibia in some shots,” says film director, Baltasar Kormákur.
“We are proud that we were able to bring a production of this size to this area,” producer James Lopez says. “We’ve seen first-hand what an impact a production like this can have on the local people in the region. The story is set in a game reserve and when we talked about different places to film, South Africa was number one on the list.
“The film industry in South Africa is strong. Touching ground here and scouting in the region and seeing what South Africa’s film community could offer, we knew we made the right decision.” (Earlier this year Tom Cruise hung out in South Africa to film his latest Mission Impossible sequel.)
The production team also wanted to protect the natural environments in which they were filming. For one particular scene, of Nate Daniels (Idris Elba) in a watering hole, the production built an actual watering hole, so as not to disturb an existing one used by animals. Production designer Jean-Vincent Puzos and his team brought the water and set up a space with trees and rocks. This gave the water the effect of a mirror – like an extremely vast lake with a perfect line.
It was critical to Kormákur to not showcase the “Hollywood” version of South Africa, but a realistic one. Namibian costume designer Moira Anne Meyer, who lives in South Africa, brought rich cultural references to design an authentic wardrobe for villagers and poachers alike.
While the cast of Beast comes from many different countries, it was important for the filmmakers that most of the supporting cast be South African. “You will hear some Venda spoken in the film,” Lopez says. “We also used actual town and location names. We wanted to make sure that we honoured the region in terms of casting, as well as dialect and the architecture of the village. That all plays into making sure we’re as true to the story as possible.”
From visceral, experiential filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur, the director of Everest and Universal Pictures’ 2 Guns and Contraband, Beast is produced by Will Packer, the blockbuster producer of Girls Trip, the Ride Along franchise, and ten movies that have opened No. 1 at the U.S. box office, including Night School, No Good Deed and Think Like a Man, by James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions, and by Baltasar Kormákur. The film is written by Ryan Engle (Rampage, Non-Stop) from an original story by Jaime Primak Sullivan and is executive produced by Jaime Primak Sullivan and Bernard Bellew.
The film opens in South African cinemas on Friday, 12 August.