More stars heading to Singapore to shoot and promote movies

Next stop: Singapore.

The year is proving to be a turning point, with Hollywood fixing its eyes on our tiny island and heading our way to promote blockbusters and shoot movies.

The increasingly high-wattage celebrity sightings have also caused quite a stir.

Star Trek star Zachary Quinto and Homeland actor Rupert Friend were recently spotted around local landmarks like Gardens by the Bay and Chinatown when their action flick, Agent 47, moved filming from Berlin to Singapore.

But brace yourself for even more, when the likes of Twilight actresses Kristen Stewart and Nikki Reed as well as Jack The Giant Slayer heart-throb Nicholas Hoult land here in the coming months.

Hot on the heels of Agent 47's shoot here, sci-fi drama Equals will reportedly fly Hoult and Stewart here for filming, tentatively slated for August.

Later this year, we will also see Reed on our shores when filming begins for the Kelvin Tong-directed horror movie Email.

In addition, Singapore has and will continue to play host to even bigger stars during their movie promotional tours.

In March, the main cast of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield and Jamie Foxx - swung by to meet the media and fans at a red carpet event at Marina Bay Sands' skating rink. They were also involved in Earth Hour-related activities, including a visit to Commonwealth Secondary School, where they talked to students on environmental sustainability and switching off the lights around the Marina Bay area to mark Earth Hour.

And even before fanboys and girls can catch their breath, several cast members of the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past will land here for the South-east Asian premiere of the superhero blockbuster next week.

Hugh Jackman, Fan Bingbing and Peter Dinklage will do their rounds at Shaw House for the highly-anticipated affair.

It's a big deal for our little red dot, considering previous similar events have been few and far between over the past 20 years. (See other report.)

Ms Irene Tay, marketing director for Sony Pictures (Singapore) which distributed The Amazing Spider-Man 2 here, told The New Paper: "For me, the tour for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a huge success and I'm really happy with it. Hopefully, this will be the start of more to come.

"I think this is the beginning and I hope we slowly spark more interest.

"I'd like to think that we jump-started (the trend)."

Aside from gaining global publicity for Singapore as a destination and the superhero sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tour also allowed fans to get up close and personal with their favourite cast members through the various events.

Ms Tay, 50, added that Singapore's efficiency, "close to world-class" infrastructure and famous landmarks like Marina Bay Sands, are pull factors that will likely draw Hollywood filmmakers here.

For Tong, 40, the decision to shoot the Hollywood-produced, set-in-Singapore Email, was a no-brainer.


He told The Straits Times in February that he hopes to highlight the contrast between the old and new in Singapore, choosing quaint corners like Chinatown and Little India, as well as the Biopolis.

He said: "At the end of the day, I am a Singapore film-maker and one of my biggest wishes is to see Singapore become a cinematic setting for international pictures. So the first chance I got to work on a Hollywood-produced film, I was determined to set the story in my little corner of the world - Singapore.''

For Ms Gillian Ang, co-founder of local pop culture website Geek Crusade, Hollywood's "belated discovery" of Singapore is timely.

"Maybe in the past, we were not seen as exotic enough or we failed to stand out. But this is really a good time to raise our profile and bring us more opportunities," said the 28-year-old.

"It's a step up and I hope more productions will consider Singapore as a destination. Then maybe, we can hope in the future that the movies will showcase other selling points, like food and heartland culture as well as highlight our homegrown stars.

"This is a big deal because we are now on Hollywood's radar. Hopefully, it raises awareness of our nation and lead to fewer Americans thinking we are part of China!"


Films that have name-dropped Singapore


The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: "Clearly you've never been to Singapore."

Dead Man's Chest (2006)

Jim Cody Williams as a fisherman: "Singapore, that's what I heard. Drunk with a smile on his face. Sure as the tide, Jack Sparrow... will turn up in Singapore."

At World's End (2007)

Chow Yun Fat as pirate lord Sao Feng: "Welcome to Singapore."


Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne/Batman's butler Alfred Pennyworth: "We order the main part of this cowl from Singapore..."

3 KING KONG (2005)

Jack Black as scheming filmmaker Carl Denham: "You said we were shooting in Singapore, right? That's what you told her?"


Dane DeHaan as Peter Parker/Spider-Man's frenemy Harry Osborn: "After graduation, I went to Brazil, then Singapore, and then Europe, you know?"


Movies that have either held promotional events or were filmed in Singapore

Saint Jack filming (1979)

Who came: Actor Ben Gazzara and director Peter Bogdanovich.

Rogue Trader filming (1999)

Who came: Actor Ewan McGregor and director James Dearden

Vanilla Sky premiere (2001)

Who came: Actors Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz and director Cameron Crowe

Larry Crowne premiere (2011)

Who came: Actor Tom Hanks

The Green Hornet press conference (2011)

Who came: Actor Seth Rogen and director Michel Gondry

Battle of the Damned filming (2013)

Who came: Actor Dolph Lundgren and director Christopher Hatton

- Rei Kurohi


This article was published on April 5 in The New Paper.

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