Avengers: Age of Ultron opens at Montecasino in FourwaysThe Incredible Hulk on the rampage in downtown Johannesburg got the audience cheering at the South African premier of the superhero blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron at Montecasino in Fourways on Wednesday, 22 April.

Among those celebrating the release of the highly anticipated movie, which features key sequences shot in Johannesburg, were Joburg Executive Major Parks Tau, US Ambassador Patrick Garspard, Gauteng Film Commission CEO Andile Mbeki, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Mzwandile Masina and Premier of Gauteng David Makhura.

A joint initiative between the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC), Department of Trade and Industry, National Film and Video Foundation and Joburg Tourism convinced Marvel Studios and Walt Disney International to choose the city as the setting for one of the biggest action sequences in the film, in which Tony Stark/Iron Man uses his specially designed "Hulkbuster suit" in an attempt to rein in an out-of-control Hulk.

Joburg Executive Major Parks Tau

The movie's filming started in Johannesburg's central business district (CBD) on 11 February 2014, and involved the closure of a number of roads as second unit crews shot key sequences without the main cast over a period of two weeks.

GFC chief executive Andile Mbeki described this as a coming of age for the local film industry, and a giant step in promoting Gauteng and the City of Joburg to the world. "This film shows that film corporations can come to South Africa and find the best locations, talent and production equipment," Mbeki said.

Gauteng Film Commission CEO Andile MbekiLebohang "Lebo M" Morake, who arranged and performed music for the Lion King movies, believes Avengers: Age of Ultron proves that South Africa has the capacity not only to produce and shoot local movies but also to handle mega-budget blockbusters that premiere in Hollywood.

US Ambassador Patrick Garspard agreed, enthusing: "I love the Avengers, but more than that, I love Johannesburg and South Africa. I hope the premiere of this film will inspire other Hollywood producers and directors to come and plant a flag in Johannesburg, make an investment and strengthen the film relationship."

Ruby Mathang, City of Joburg MMC for Economic Development, said the film had created jobs, enhanced the city's creative and technical skills base, boosted the country's international profile. It had also generated significant revenue, "with the Gauteng film industry contributing some R2.5-billion (US$360-million) to the economy of the province.

"Therefore this film is important to Joburg from both an economic, revenue-generating perspective, as well as a branding and marketing angle," Mathang said.

Fans get into the super-spirit of things at the Avengers premiere"We have the infrastructure and technical expertise that international filmmakers can rely on to efficiently and cost-effectively produce their films, as well as a historical past and a future that inspires many scriptwriters to develop captivating stories and use our city to create fascinating visuals.

"As well as excellent infrastructure, ideal weather for filming throughout the year and a diversity of accessible locations, Johannesburg is also an affordable destination."

Mathang said the City was committed to creating an environment in which the private sector could confidently invest in the film sector. "The film industry is important for economic growth in the city, as well as its reputation as a world-class African city and business hub."

The latest in The Avengers series, starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, James Spader and Samuel L Jackson, opens in South African cinemas on 24 April.

Local audiences can look out for the Johannesburg skyline as well as amazing inner-city action when Earth's mightiest heroes take on Ultron, a technological super-villain born out of a scientific programme that went wrong, bringing Ultron to life with the goal of saving the planet by eliminating the biggest perceived threat to it - humanity.

Images of the premiere. Click on the images below to view larger versions, then use the arrows above each photo to play or scroll manually through the slideshow:

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission