Johannesburg filmgoers are gearing up to watch their city catch fire in the superhero blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, which opens in South African cinemas on 24 April ahead of its North American release on 1 May.

Approximately 10 minutes of action sequences were filmed on the streets of downtown Joburg over two weeks in February 2014, following a successful pitch to Marvel Studios by the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC).

While the main cast were not part of the Jozi shoot, the sequences served as background "plates" for a titanic confrontation between the Hulk and Iron Man, so local audiences can look forward to watching some familiar city infrastructure being subjected to a special effects trashing of note - check the official trailer for a sneak preview:

Desmond Mthembu, projects manager at the GFC, told journalists at the time of filming: "The great thing about this movie is that they are shooting Johannesburg as Johannesburg. Often you will find filmmakers will shoot in Johannesburg and portray the location as Los Angeles. This time around the first 10 minutes of the film will be of Johannesburg."

Commission CEO Phindile Mbanujwa said the filming of a major motion picture project in the city "strengthens Johannesburg's position as a worldwide film production centre with first-class facilities and production support".

While some residents and business owners were not amused at the intermittent road closures that enabled the two-week shot in Johannesburg's CBD, the pay-off for the city and the province, in terms of international exposure for the city and the local industry - see below for screengrabs from the official trailer - will far outweigh the inconvenience caused.

City of Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau said the shoot was "very positive for the city, and we have worked diligently with the [Johannesburg Joint Operations Committee] to make our city an attractive location for films of all sizes".

Avengers: Age of Ultron joins a growing list of major motion picture hits - including District 9, Catch a Fire, Dredd, Invictus and Hotel Rwanda - that have been shot in Gauteng province.

Marvel's The Avengers was a massive hit for Marvel Studios - it currently sits in third place in Wikipedia's list of the highest-grossing films of all time. Boxoffice magazine has predicted that Avengers: Age of Ultron will earn US$217-million on its opening weekend in North America, surpassing the $207-million generated by The Avengers and making it the biggest feature-film debut of all time.

The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Chris Evans as Captain America and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow - teamed up with various others (including Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury) to take on Ultron (played by James Spader), a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction.

Check out some screengrabs from the first trailer released by Marvel Studios, which opens with a wide-angle aerial of the city approaching from the west, and gives glimpses of a number of scenes in which Ultron announces his destructive intent:

Shot in Johannesburg: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Shot in Johannesburg: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Shot in Johannesburg: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Shot in Johannesburg: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Source: staff reporter
Contact the Gauteng Film Commission