NZ 'otherworldly & magic' says Wolverine star
19 May 2009
Hugh Jackman, star of the recently released movie 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' which features the South Island resort of Queenstown, says New Zealand's "otherworldly and magical" qualities have helped elevate the film.
The Queenstown landscape acted as stand in for the Canadian Rockies in the movie and the managing director of 20th Century Fox, Mark Croft, said it was "pure delight" to see the New Zealand backdrops used.
"They say it's Canada but any New Zealander would know straight away where it was and it looked amazing," he said.
Jackman, who plays James Logan the movie's troubled, indestructible superhero, is also co-producer of Wolverine and said he wanted the prequel to look "bigger and different" from other X-Men movies.
"There's something otherworldly about New Zealand. It's so magical. It helped elevate our world and the film's reality," he said.
Movie NZ No. 1
Wolverine became an opening weekend blockbuster taking US$85 million at the box office and even beating Star Trek in takings.
In New Zealand it went straight to No 1 in the opening week earning NZ$1.45 million at the box office.
Film Otago Southland executive manager Kevin Jennings said local movie goers were delighted to recognise their own backyard in the movie and Wolverine had been a "fantastic advertisement" for Queenstown and the South. He said both regions were poised to reap the ongoing benefits created by movie tourism.
Although there has been no specific study of financial input by Wolverine's cast and crew into the Queenstown economy, productions spent $38.7 million in Otago-Southland last year and Wolverine was credited with a significant amount of the total, says Jennings.
"Aside from the initial direct economic benefit of money into the resort and creation of jobs, there's the building of relationships with international film-makers," he said.
The Hollywood blockbuster was based in the region from early October 2007 to mid-June 2008 and employed about 100 local film-makers and service personnel. More than 300 cast and crew worked on the film during production.
Wolverine production offices were set up at Peppers Beacon in Lake Esplanade and Jackman was spotted at the Shotover Jet, Queenstown gym and the local cinema as well as other Queenstown haunts.
Film superhero James Logan’s isolated log cabin was built and filmed at Deer Park Heights, a wildlife park with dramatic scenery near Queenstown where Lord of the Rings was also shot.
The farmhouse and barn where Logan seeks refuge in Wolverine were made and blown up on private land near Paradise, Queenstown and the Harley Davidson versus helicopter action set-piece was created on a public road in the valley.
Vistas in the nearby Glenorchy area and Lake Mahinerangi forest in the Clutha district formed the backdrops of several scenes, and a disused cement works in the city of Dunedin served as the logging camp operation and the bar where Wolverine and Sabretooth face off.
Zero waste policy
Wolverine was also the first major film to be part of a new "how to zero waste" initiative introduced by the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Film Otago Southland, last year.
The film generated 670 tonnes of waste, 615 tonnes of which was reused or recycled.
It saved the film company an estimated NZ$55,000 in landfill fees and formed the template of the "how-to zero waste" initiative for visiting film-makers.
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