Instead of laying waste to Tokyo, Godzilla is making his way across Vancouver Island.
The Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla movie is filming in downtown Nanaimo, as well as Ladysmith and Shawnigan Lake, this week. Depending on the weather there are several Nanaimo locations the crew may choose.
Witnesses in the area said they saw film setup occurring on View and Seventh streets in south Nanaimo, Douglas Avenue, in Harewood, and Victoria Crescent near the Cambie.
The movie, directed by Gareth Edwards, stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen and Juliette Binoche. The screenplay was written by Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont and Dave Callaham.
Sasha Angus, chief executive officer for the Nanaimo Economic Development, said the film industry is important and when a large movie production comes to town it means a lot of money is infused into the local economy. He said it could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars a day going into the Nanaimo economy. The film crews often hire local catering companies, fill hotels and motels and rent equipment from local businesses.
“It’s a lot of money going to local businesses. It’s fantastic,” he said.
Joan Millar, Vancouver Island North regional film commissioner, said about 300 crew members will come to the city for the shoot in downtown Nanaimo. And while the filming is being done in Ladysmith the crew will be staying in Nanaimo hotels because there isn’t enough capacity in Ladysmith.
“This is rare for us,” said Millar about having a film shot in a downtown location on the Island.
She said if a film wants a downtown look it would usually shoot in the Vancouver area.
The economic development office was contacted about four months ago about filming locations for the movie. The development office works closely with InFilm to find suitable locations.
“You want to make sure you are film friendly,” said Angus.
In 2006 the City of Nanaimo ended its support of the Nanaimo Film Commission and refused to contribute to InFilm. Angus said the economic development corporation is looking into whether the it will work with the commission in the future to promote Nanaimo as a filming location.
Millar said she’s encouraged by the conversations she’s had with the corporation because the film commission is a not for profit that works hard to promote Island locations to the film industry.
Angus said he’s a fan of the Godzilla movies.
“I have a four year old so I can’t wait to see it on the big screen and see his face when the monster comes rolling around,” said Angus.
He said it’s great for the Nanaimo community and for people who watch the movie to recognize locations from their home town.
Godzilla is expected to open in theatres May 16, 2014, and be presented in 3D.