Random Media Uncovers ‘The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille’

“Part Detective Story, Part ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’…”*


In 1982 He Heard About an Ancient Egyptian City Buried in the California Desert…

For 30 Years He’s Been Fighting to Dig it Up! 

The Mystery Debuts on Digital & VOD – October 3

Leading independent cinema distributor Random Media and Lost City Productions debut a Hollywood detective story that will thrill any fan of movies and history — THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE on Digital and Video-on-Demand on October 3, 2017!   A fascinating documentary that pays tribute to Cecil B. DeMille, one of Hollywood’s most innovative and commercially successful filmmakers, it is the story of a more than 30 year quest to unearth from the sandy coast of Central California, the remains of one of De Mille’s most monumental undertakings: the Egyptian city constructed for his first spectacle, 1923’s The Ten Commandments.

THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE follows the decades long quest of Peter Brosnan, who first heard rumors of the burial of DeMille’s City of the Pharaoh, a huge set encompassing 20 sphinxes and four 35-ton statues of Ramses, in 1982.  Too daunting to be constructed inside a 1920’s-era studio soundstage, DeMille and his production staff found their “faux-Egypt” on the beaches of Santa Barbara County.  When they finished shooting, rather than leave the sets to be repurposed by second-rate hacks hoping to steal a little of his thunder, DeMille had the sets buried in the sand, counting on time and coastal elements to eventually destroy them.  

Fascinated by this bit of movie lore about “the last of the great sets” and optimistic that much of the set may have survived, Brosnan and film-school friends Bruce Cardozo and Richard Eberhardt set out to arrange for an excavation and make a documentary.  What followed was decades of on-again, off-again excavation efforts, as the project faced seemingly insurmountable funding stumbles and bureaucratic obstacles.

“What an extraordinary story… a rare combination of film and cultural history.”  —  Leonard Maltin

THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE documentary is the story behind the excavation, highlighting Brosnan’s multiple agonizing years of starts and stops, as funding, red tape and weather halted the well-publicized story that wouldn’t die, even when Brosnan was ready to walk away, over and over again.  It concurrently interweaves the history of famed director DeMille with fascinating firsthand accounts from dozens of people who were involved in the groundbreaking 1923 production, including studio executives, extras, spectators and the filmmaker’s granddaughter Cecilia DeMille Presley.


A fascinating documentary about the 30+ year quest, against funding struggles and bureaucratic red tape, of filmmaker Peter Brosnan to unearth from the sandy coast of Central California, the remains of one of Cecil B. DeMille’s most monumental undertakings: the Egyptian city constructed for his first spectacle, 1923’s The Ten Commandments.


Have you seen “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston?  Did you know that in 1923 Cecil B. DeMille made a silent version of the movie?   Because Egypt was far away from the studio and estimated to be much too costly, DeMille shot the film in Santa Barbara County, California, about 150 miles north of Hollywood, and built an enormous ‘City of the Pharaoh’ set, literally taking over the economy of the surrounding community and creating a fantastic spectacle.  Designed by Paul Iribe, the “father of Art Deco,” it was the largest set in motion picture history.   When filming wrapped, the city mysteriously vanished.

In 1982, Peter Brosnan was sitting in a bar when someone told him that there were ancient Egyptian Sphinxes buried somewhere in the California Dunes.  It sparked his imagination and he embarked on what turned out to be a thirty year battle to prove the existence of these Sphinxes and the discovery of the Lost City. After searching in the California desert, Brosnan located what he believed was the site of the 1923 filming. Over 33 years in the making, “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille” is an extraordinary tribute to a director whose innovative and fearless style continues to inspire modern day filmmakers, almost 60 years after his death.

THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE explores the spirit of a man, Peter Brosnan, who walked away from this project three times in frustration, only to be called back a fourth time. The result is an iconic tale of a reluctant hero, who finally surrenders to his destiny and accepts that he was chosen to follow this quest and tell this story.

* The Santa Barbara International Film Festival



Director: Peter Brosnan
Screenwriter: Peter Brosnan
Producers: Peter Brosnan, Daniel J. Coplan
Executive producer: Francesca Judge Silva

Presented by:  Cecelia DeMille Presley

Co-producers: Bruce Cardozo, Richard Eberhardt

Director of photography: Alessandro Gentile
Editor: George Artope

Still Photography: Kelvin Jones

Time Lapse Photography: Michael DeLavallade
Composer: Steve Bauman
Running Time: 88 minutes

Produced by: Lost City Productions

Distributed by: Random Media

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