Ghost in the Shell brings $85 million in economic benefits to Wellington gallery

The Shelling sequence is the opening scene of Ghost in the Shell  and was created in a joint effort between Weta ...
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The Shelling sequence is the opening scene of Ghost in the Shell and was created in a joint effort between Weta Workshop, director Rupert Sanders, producer Avi Arad and MPC Animation Studio.

Filming Ghost in the Shell in Wellington boosted the capital's economy by $85 million and looks set to raise the city's profile to international movie-makers.

Sir Richard Taylor believes the film, starring Scarlett Johansson, will be critically important for the future of Wellington's film industry.

It helped to illustrate how different genres of movies could be made in the city, and showed there was a broad skill base here, he said.

Sir Richard Taylor says Ghost in the Shell tells the movie world that Wellington "can do any requirement for any film in ...
STEVE UNWIN/FILE PHOTO

Sir Richard Taylor says Ghost in the Shell tells the movie world that Wellington "can do any requirement for any film in the world". (FILE)

"This industry demands that you are constantly relevant. Getting the message out that we can do any requirement for any film in the world is surprisingly hard and nothing speaks for you better than the result of a film you have worked on."

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The movie was originally set to be made in Berlin but Weta Workshop helped to sway producers and directors to relocate to Wellington.

Wellington's Victoria St was turned into Hong Kong. It was the first time urban Wellington was transformed into another ...
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Wellington's Victoria St was turned into Hong Kong. It was the first time urban Wellington was transformed into another location on the silver screen.

"They were also impressed with Stone St Studios and the reputation of Wellington's film fraternity," Taylor said.

At the heart of the major decision was a Government screen production grant that put the city on a level playing field with other places in the world, he said.

"Every producer is chasing cost-effectiveness to make their process as viable as possible and that plays a part of the decision making."

The Red Robe Geisha from Ghost in the Shell was made by Weta Workshop in collaboration with costume designers Kurt & ...
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The Red Robe Geisha from Ghost in the Shell was made by Weta Workshop in collaboration with costume designers Kurt & Bart (The Hunger Games).

Ghost in the Shell would also provide "wonderful" spin off benefits for Wellington in tourism and ongoing business opportunities including, merchandising, he said.

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"The benefits [of the movie] will be extraordinary [for the city]".

During filming, $7.1m was spent in the city on accommodation alone, according to figures released by Paramount.

Scarlett Johansson filming a scene for Ghost in the Shell in Wellington's Victoria St.
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Scarlett Johansson filming a scene for Ghost in the Shell in Wellington's Victoria St.

Taylor will travel to New York for the world premiere next Wednesday, where he will front Wellington as a film destination to world press and the movers and shakers of the industry.

Johansson said loved Wellington's harbour and said it was a great place to shoot a movie.

"Everybody here has been so friendly and warm ... it has the kind of outdoorsy vibe so it was nice on days off to be able to walk by the water and be outside and drive to the mountains and go walking in the bush ... it's great and beats a lot of other cities that I have shot in."

Filming Ghost in the Shell in Wellington's Victoria St.
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Filming Ghost in the Shell in Wellington's Victoria St.

New Zealand Film Commission head of incentives Catherine Bates said the movie showcased the city for future productions as well as up-and-coming talent.

The wide reaching economic benefits also spilled into the fashion industry, she said.

The majority of the suits in the movie were created by Lower Hutt business, Rembrandt, while pieces by New Zealand jewellery designers Steph Lusted and Jasmine Watsonwere also used.

The majority of the suits in Ghost in the Shell were created by Wellington suit designer, Rembrandt.
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The majority of the suits in Ghost in the Shell were created by Wellington suit designer, Rembrandt.

Many cast and crew spent months living like locals in the capital and travelled around the country during their breaks.

Wellington's biggest drawcard, as an attractive production base, was it's studio facilities and now it could add urban filming locations, said supervising locations manager, Jared Connon.

Victoria St was transformed into Hong Kong and the producers could not believe how much control they had for two weeks.

Weta Workshop's Red Robe Geisha features in one of the opening scenes of the film.
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Weta Workshop's Red Robe Geisha features in one of the opening scenes of the film.

There was little outside interference and they had complete support from the community, he said

"They were absolutely gobsmacked. It was incredible, that would never happen in Auckland."

It was not straight forward but Screen Wellington - an off-shoot of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency - resolved issues with stakeholders, got permits, dealt with transportation and worked with businesses, he said.

BY THE NUMBERS

US$120m (NZ$170m) was spent in New Zealand on Ghost in the Shell

US$60m (NZ$85.2m) was spent in Wellington

$9.5m of that was on art and costume materials

$7.1m was spent on accommodation

$2.3m was spent on vehicle hire

$750,000 was spent on vehicle modifications

$440,000 was spent on second-hand vehicles

$340,000 was spent on bike modifications

777 crew members were involved

718 of the crew were Kiwis

48 actors used in total

30 Kiwi actors were used

315 extras used were Wellingtonians

75 days were spent on principal filming in New Zealand

Source: Paramount Pictures

 - Stuff

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