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Locations trying to cash in on the Star Wars bucks

How much money is a Star Wars location worth? This has been a question many film commissions and government’s cultural departments have been worrying about over the past few months.

Right from the offset director J.J. Abrams announced he preferred it if shooting would take place in Los Angeles, but this appeared to be impossible. So, fast forward to 2015 and watch Mr. Abrams descent from a plane. But where in the world will his eager Star Wars followers have a chance of an autograph?

Of course, the UK is currently seen as the ‘lucky one’, with principal photography at least for the first film confirmed to take place at London’s Pinewood Studios. And according to multiple reports George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor, has been pushing for the entire production to take place in the UK (and it looks like he succeeded – though no other locations than Pinewood have been announced). But does all this indeed mean that the UK will see a huge return on investment?

Probably not. Though the UK will no doubt have offered the world to Disney, they are very unlikely to see their money come back in the shape of much desired tourism pounds. Unlike the Harry Potter and the Notting Hill tours, there won’t be much to see on a supposed Star Wars tour other than a large green screen and techy studio. Not quite the identifiable locations that will attract the busloads of Japanese camera tourists.

Though this still hasn’t stopped anyone, past or present, trying to get in on the intergalactic space adventure. After all, involvement does show to the international film industry that a nation or studio is able to handle a production of scale – in effect it’s a branding exercise.

What the harsh money-making forecast also hasn’t stopped is the fun of trying to figure out which other location rumours are true and which rumours are just that…plain gossip.

Speaking to Variety magazine earlier this week, Albuquerque Studios' president Dana Arnold said that there has been talk for two years that parts of Star Wars would shoot in New Mexico, where his studio is housed. And in the same interview he mentions talk of locations such as Iceland (location to Game of Thrones), Jordan (Prometheus), Scotland (World War Z) and Ireland (Haywire).

All very exciting we think. Here at KFTV we will follow the battle for location closely and promise you to report on developments as they occur. In the meantime we wish Star Wars producer Bryan Burk and his team good luck in dealing with all the sales pitches from film commissions that they receive.

Arnold figures Burk, Abrams and executive producer Kathleen Kennedy must be swamped with sales pitches from film commissions to win a part of the production.

As Arnold said in earlier mentioned interview: “They’re all willing to offer things on a one-shot basis, everything they can imagine the producers might want, just to be able to say they got the new Star Wars shoot. That din is probably the first challenge facing any location or facility that wants to be seriously considered.”

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