Roll up, roll up – it’s (almost) time for the greatest show, if not on Earth, then at least in the UAE.
Brad Pitt will arrive in Abu Dhabi in October to start work on his latest movie and, in doing so, will bring with him the whole Brangelina circus.
Although the star is expected to spend his first week in the capital alone, with just cast and crew of his new film, War Machine, for company, his wife Angelina Jolie and their six children will be flying over once shooting has started.
Hollywood royalty the pair may be, but they are certainly not like your average A-listers.
For example, unlike the rest of the crew, they have shunned the offer of an exclusive five-star hotel suite, instead preferring to rent out a property a short drive from the set.
At an estimated Dh73,000 a week, the sprawling pad hasn’t come cheap – but that is the price Brad, 51, is willing to pay to keep his family together in a cosy atmosphere.
"Brad often flies Angelina and the kids out when he is working abroad and this will be no different," a production insider told The National.
“Nowadays, they try to time their schedules so that one is always free to be with the children and support the other who is working.
“They are also both passionate about getting to know a region, ingratiating themselves with the locals and experiencing different cultures and traditions first-hand.
“Obviously, the children have school, so it will probably be a flying visit, but they are all really looking forward to their time in Abu Dhabi.”
War Machine is based on The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War In Afghanistan, a novel by the late author Michael Hastings. Pitt plays a US general opposite American actor Topher Grace in the satirical movie.
He is also co-producing the lavish Netflix production, which is due for release next year on the online video-streaming service.
With filming in Afghanistan clearly out of the question, Abu Dhabi is, well, playing the role of the Afghan desert.
Confirming his part in the movie, Pitt said: “I’m humbled to be making a big, bold movie about the whole sprawling, complex, cumbersome and crazy machinery of modern war and the many lives it touches.”
Which is fitting, of course, given the number of lives he and Jolie have touched.
After a bit of a rocky public start to their relationship – they met on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith, while Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston – they have come full circle, winning over their one-time detractors.
In addition to Jolie’s relentless humanitarian work for the United Nations – as part of which she frequently flies to war-torn regions in between movies – she and Pitt have successfully raised a “rainbow family”, giving underprivileged children from around the world the best possible start in life.
By all accounts, their adopted children Maddox, 14, Pax, 11, and Zahara, 10, are extremely polite, well-adjusted and happy youngsters – no small achievement in itself, given the way some Hollywood kids have turned out.
Although they have three biological children – Shiloh, 9, and 7-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox – the couple treat all their children exactly the same. There is no special treatment and good manners are the cornerstone of their parenting.
While Jolie has gone from the reviled “other woman” to humble humanitarian, Oscar-winning actress and devoted mum-of-six, Pitt remains as chiselled, handsome and well liked as ever.
Even unlucky-in-love Aniston got married last week – the circle and transformation really is truly complete.
But Brangelina aren’t just popular off-screen – they also inspire loyalty, and camaraderie, on it.
While making her second film as a director, the 2013 hit Unbroken, Jolie, 40, insisted on eating all meals with the cast. Given the majority were playing prisoners of war, this meant surviving on fewer than 600 calories a day.
Pitt, meanwhile, is a notorious prankster. Alongside best friend George Clooney, the two were notorious for their antics on the sets of Ocean's 11 and its sequels.
While filming Ocean's 12, for example, Pitt wrote a memo to all members of the crew, claiming Clooney did not want anyone making direct eye contact with him and that he insisted on being referred to only by the name of his character, Danny Ocean.
A local paper picked up on the star’s purported demands, calling him ‘il Divo’, oblivious to the fact that it was all a joke by Pitt.
Quite whether the star will be so bold and mischievous in the UAE remains to be seen.
Brangelina in the Middle East
This will be Brangelina’s first visit to the UAE, but the couple are no strangers to the region.
As part of her role as a special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, last year Jolie visited Lebanon to help raise awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees.
She has also visited Jordan’s Zaatari camp, which holds more than 185,000 refugees.
Brangelina are also rumoured to be adopting a Syrian child.
Although no stranger to budget airlines – the family was recently pictured on an Air France economy flight to St Tropez – Brangelina and family are expected to fly to the UAE on a private jet.
A nanny and personal assistant are rumoured to be joining them, but it is understood that Jolie, a keep-fit fan, plans to hire a personal trainer once she gets here – as she has done on location previously.
Despite having the option of a private chef, Pitt is said to be keen to try out local restaurants.
Having successfully forged equally successful acting careers, both Pitt and Jolie have worked hard on adding to their CVs behind the camera.
They have also increasingly been working on projects together, with Jolie recently writing, directing and starring in Behind the Sea, which features Pitt as her on-screen lover. The film, set in the 1970s, is due out in November.