Filming of the upcoming movie Ghost in the Shell has proved prosperous for the city of Wellington.
Production of the film involved transforming parts of Wellington into a stylised Hong Kong, and has resulted in a whopping USD$60 million (about NZD$85 million) boost to the local economy.
The film, which premieres in New York tomorrow, will exhibit the inner Wellington city dressed up as another harbour city on the international level.
Scarlett Johansson plays the lead in the film, and was made to feel very welcome by the ‘friendly and warm’ people of Wellington.
“It beats a lot of other cities that I have shot in,” she says.
Nearly all of the filming of Ghost in the Shell took place in Wellington. Victoria Street was shut down for five days to be remodelled in a futuristic Hong Kong. The closure was the largest filming to ever take place in an inner city in New Zealand.
Richard Johnson, supervising art director on the project, had nothing but good words for the city for allowing the shut down.
“It’s not every city in the world that will say okay, here's two blocks, it's yours, shut it down,” says Johnson.
“I mean they went to the extent of diverting the buses, turning off the power above us, letting us control the street lighting, letting us control the building lighting, you know. Exceptionally helpfully, exceptionally.”
Executive producer of the film, Jeffery Silver said the passion and professionalism showed by the crew cemented Wellington as the right destination for filming.
“First of all, the phenomenal crew here, I can’t emphasize that enough, they really have very versatile, talented, gung ho-spirited group of filmmakers,” says Silver.
“I think they could wear different hats and take different roles, basically at the heart of it they’re filmmakers which I really appreciate.”
David Jones of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency says the economic benefit for Wellington was very extensive, demonstrating the importance of the film industry to the local economy in Wellington.
“Wellingtonians might often hear a movie is being made in town, but probably don’t realise it means so much more than which cafe a famous actor has been spotted in,” says Jones.
“It means jobs, spending in local businesses and crucially, a chance to build Wellington’s reputation further as a hub for world-class screen production. Ghost in a Shell is no exception; it was an awesome production for our screen industry and our screen industry was a great fit for the production.”
Some of the biggest spends on the project included:
-$7.1 million on accommodation
-$2.3m on vehicle hire
-$9.5m on art and costume materials
-$440,000 on second hand vehicles,
-$1,090,000 on vehicle and motorbike modifications
Around 800 different New Zealand retailers, not included in the film’s payroll, were utilised by cast and crew member. 720 domestic flights were booked during the filming process.
The film employed 777 crew members, with 718 of those being from New Zealand. 30 of the 48 total actors in the project were kiwis, as well as 315 extras who were local.
Wellington’s Weta Workshop was instrumental in delivering the film’s animatronics, props and set dressing, with more than 2000 designs generated for the movie. Weta Workship churned out an estimated 71,000 hours of work on the project. This equates to 8,875 eight-hour work days.
This comes after the Wellington screen sector generated $586 million in revenue in the year ending in March 2015 according to Statistic New Zealand.
Kiwis will be some of the first in the world to see Ghost in the Shell upon its release in New Zealand tomorrow, 30 March.