Den of Thieves and 300 actor Gerard Butler is among those in Hollywood currently taking a stance against the Saudi Arabian government. The actor had arranged to travel to the country as part of the promotion for his latest project, Hunter Killer, in which he plays a submarine captain working to rescue the Russian president and prevent World War II. However, he has now opted not to visit Saudi Arabia, given the situation that has arisen surrounding the apparent death of one member of the press.
Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist who had written for the Washington Post who was known for his criticism of the crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman. On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Khashoggi went to the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish citizen. He has not been seen since. A joint investigation is being conducted by the Turkish and Saudi officials, but the Turkish authorities say that they have reason to believe Khashoggi was murdered. As news has spread, others in the media have chosen to speak out.
Butler gave a press conference at the Pentagon in order to promote Hunter Killer. As reported by ABC, the actor stated that given the investigation going on regarding the disappearance of Khashoggi, he feels "it would have been incredibly insensitive to go to Saudi Arabia" at this time, as he was scheduled to. He added that he "felt very badly" about how this would affect the Saudi Arabian film company he was scheduled to work with, who he said, "did all their work in good faith." When asked if he was planning to meet with the crown prince, he replied in the affirmative.
The actor isn't the only one in the film industry cutting ties with Saudi Arabia. Ari Emanuel's Endeavor had a $400 million deal in progress with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, according to THR. Numerous other media entities, including representatives from Viacom, Los Angeles Times, and CNBC, have dropped out of an upcoming conference in the capital city of Riyadh, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 23-25.
Other potential projects in Saudi Arabia could be affected. Wealthy investors in the country are said to be big fans of WWE, and Greatest Royal Rumble, which took place in April, brought in a lot of money. Now, the Saudis are eyeing Hulk Hogan for another show, Crown Jewel. WWE has not yet commented on the investigation surrounding Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia has a complicated history with the film industry. Just last year, the country lifted a 35-year ban on cinemas. The Emoji Movie was shown in a private screening in January, and months later, a new AMC theater was opened, playing Black Panther as its first film.