South Africa 24.4.2015 12:30 pm

Avengers put SA on the map – for all the right reasons

Iron Man goes up against Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Pic: Supplied.

Iron Man goes up against Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Pic: Supplied.

Remember the disastrous traffic when parts of The Avengers: Age of Ultron were being filmed in Johannesburg last year?

Of course you do, and that’s why you should brace yourself, as South Africa is becoming a leading location for Hollywood blockbusters – drawing not only A-list films to the country, but leading television series, too.

A number of roads in the Johannesburg CBD were closed when the movie, which opens in cinemas on Friday, was shot between February 14 and 24 last year by Walt Disney International.

Johannesburg MMC for Economic Development Ruby Mathang said the film industry was important for economic growth in the city.

FILE PIC: Frustrating traffic congestion caused more of an upset than the no-show of American actress Scarlett Johansson for the filming of The Avengers sequel in the Johannesburg CBD yesterday. Picture: Valentina Nicol.

FILE PIC: Frustrating traffic congestion caused more of an upset than the no-show of American actress Scarlett Johansson for the filming of The Avengers sequel in the Johannesburg CBD in February last year. Picture: Valentina Nicol.

“The value of film to the city is significant, with the Gauteng film industry contributing some R2.5 billion to the economy of the province. Therefore this film is important to Joburg from both an economic, revenue-generating perspective, as well as a branding and marketing angle,” said Mathang.

Feature films aside, the department of trade and industry confirmed a number of international TV series are scheduled to shoot in the country.

Televisions series Black Sails and Dominion are currently being filmed in the country, while filming for the fourth season of Golden Globe Award-winning series Homeland took place on-site in Cape Town last year.

Unlike Johannesburg, which is featured as itself in the Avengers sequel, the Mother City doubled for a number of locations set in Turkey, Pakistan and the US for Homeland.

The Walt Disney Company Africa senior vice-president Christine Service told The Citizen one of the aims of using Johannesburg in the Avengers sequel was not to hide the city.

“It all started with the script. In this particular instance, writer and director Joss Whedon wanted to take certain scenes out of a studio setting and use real locations to give the audience a sense of The Avengers being global superheroes,” said Service.

“They then did a location search, engaged with many different parties in South Africa. When Joss came here, he loved the location of Johannesburg. He said he liked the earthiness of the city, the architecture, the buildings, and it really went from there. About 300 South African crew were used in the 10-day shoot, three of whom were incorporated in the crew when filming moved on to South Korea.”

Watch: The Hulk smashes the Joburg CBD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjx-02XWuzk&feature=youtu.be

Johannesburg also features in this short preview:

This week saw the arrival of real soldiers in Johannesburg as a “last resort” after weeks of xenophobic unrest that have left at least seven people dead.

Gauteng Film Commission CEO Andile Mbeki said xenophobia is not unique to the province or South Africa.

“It is a global problem. There have been a number of interventions, like marches happening in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg, and the president establishing an interministerial committee to battle xenophobia,” said Mbeki.

Hostel dwellers lay face down on the floor during a joint South African Police and South African army raid in Johannesburg. AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI

Hostel dwellers lay face down on the floor during a joint South African Police and South African army raid in Johannesburg. AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI

“The message has gone out to the world that we, South Africans, do not agree with xenophobia. We are the last people in the world, especially Africa, to not accept foreign people. The commission is embarking on a strategy of marketing Gauteng and Johannesburg to address these issues.”

Western Cape Investment, Trade and Promotion Agency (Wesgro) film and production manager Monica Rorvik said the company does not comment on films that are scheduled for shooting in the province until they are public knowledge.

“Studios come to Wesgro as our clients where privacy is upmost,” said Rorvik.

“One has to manage the communications plans of films coming here, as they have to drive their products to market which includes screens, DVD, video on-demand and pay TV, and thus they announce to newspapers to time with their entrance-to-market or distribution, rather announce to public during the shooting and production cycle.”

Western Cape finance, economic development and tourism Minister Alan Winde told The Citizen Cape Town is the culture, design and creative capital of South Africa.

“Films are a great destination marketing tool and showcase our region to an international audience. The film industry is an enabler for tourism, contributing around R23 million per annum to the Western Cape tourism sector,” said Winde.

Winde added the most important benefits of film were the economic opportunities for residents. He said Safehouse, starring Denzel Washington, which was filmed in the Western Cape, had created 5 200 jobs.

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