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Joahnnesburg - It’s gridlocked the city in rush hour, but it’s putting the Joburg inner city into the movies.
Even a Joburg bus station will make an appearance in the superhero movie, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, being shot in the city.
“We have a breakthrough in that Joburg will be depicted as Joburg,” said the Gauteng Film Commission’s communications manager, Tumi Ntshingila.
Ntshingila helped arrange filming of part of the movie in Joburg.
“I promote Gauteng as a premier destination,” she explained.
The 10-day closure of streets around the Gauteng Legislature has caused headaches for Joburg motorists, with tempers flaring, Rea Vaya buses rerouted and Gautrain buses sitting in traffic jams.
On Wednesday morning, traffic snarls eased a little as few streets were blocked off. For the local film industry, it’s good business.
The City of Joburg won’t say how much it is making out of the street closures or any location fees, only that it will add up the bill later.
“It should be emphasised the total cost of the production will be consolidated once the work has been completed,” said city spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane. “It has been agreed each entity or department providing services will bill the film directly for services provided. For example, overtime hours with personnel on duty has to be worked into the total cost when the invoice is presented.”
Planning for the Avengers invasion was run by the joint operations committee. The Joburg Property Company was involved in approving the use of properties, such as the old post office in Rissik Street, said Modingoane.
“We are proud of the fact that a Rea Vaya/BRT bus station will be featured in the film,” he said.
The Joburg Roads Agency has arranged the road closures and access, the metro police are running the road closures, the emergency services are on site “for medical assistance and the supervision of pyrotechnical stuff, flames, smoke, dust etc during the production shoot”, said Modingoane.
Joburg Disaster Management is there for emergencies and City Power is watching over the power supply.
Last year the Gauteng Film Commission showed Joburg to Marvel Studios, encouraging them to shoot in the city. Ntshingila said they looked at factors like favourable weather, the rand-dollar exchange rate which made it worth the trip, Joburg’s infrastructure, local studios for post-production work, local technical expertise, hotels, banking and car hire.
“It’s a holistic package they look at,” she said.
She said the inner-city buildings were so old they could be used for anything to suit the movie.
Some small businesses were disrupted, but the movie team are compensating them financially.
The movie had hired 1 000 extras from Joburg, said Ntshingila. They’ve also hired local production and technical teams and equipment.
Nobody’s saying how much is being spent, but Ntshingila said it was a multibillion-dollar-budget movie.