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Urban Wellington was the unheralded star of Ghost in the Shell, with a busy central city street transformed into a futuristic version of Hong Kong thanks in part to input from Wellington’s entertainment experts, Screen Wellington and the NZ Film Commission.
Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks Pictures' Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, was 90 per cent filmed in Wellington at Stone Street Studios, Avalon Studios and on location at the central city’s Victoria Street which was transformed into futuristic Hong Kong.
The five-day shutdown of Victoria Street was the largest inner city filming ever done in New Zealand, achieved when Kiwi film Pork Pie was also being filmed on the other side of the city.
Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) Business Growth and Innovation General Manager David Jones says the economic benefit for Wellington was far reaching, showing how important the screen sector is to the local economy.
“It was an awesome production for our screen industry and our screen industry was a great fit for the production.” – David Jones, WREDA
“You know it’s not every city in the world that will say, okay, here’s two blocks, it’s yours, shut it down.” – Richard Johnson, Supervising Art Director
“One of the things that quickly warmed us to working here [Wellington] was the studio space, having one roof to work under at a very well-equipped Stone Street Studios.” - Michael Costigan, Producer
Weta Workshop was an integral part of the concept design and practical effects of Ghost in the Shell. Its work included more than 2000 designs for the film, including eight silicon Thermoptic suits worn by Scarlett Johansson’s character Major, 13 character Geisha, 25 full Geisha masks and wigs, and six wax “exploding” heads.
“Weta Workshop has been a critical design partner from the very beginning.” - Ari Arad, Producer
“We were very excited to be working with Weta Workshop. Richard Taylor’s team have brought an incredible world together for us, from the cybernetic enhancements to the robotics, to the set decoration.” – Jeffery Silver, Executive Producer
90% of Ghost in the Shell was filmed in New Zealand where there were 75 days of principal filming. Many of the cast, crew and extras were sourced locally.
“The crews were incredible, hard-working, loved what they were doing, and the technical level was tops.” - Ari Arad, Producer
‘There were a number of factors that went into the choice of New Zealand, and particularly Wellington, to the making of Ghost in the Shell. First of all, the phenomenal crew here. I can’t emphasise that enough, they really have a very versatile, talented, gung ho-spirited group of filmmakers.” – Jeffery Silver, Executive Producer.