South Africa is quickly gaining a reputation as a sought-after country in which to film. Cape Town is already considered an epicenter for art, and along with Johannesburg, is becoming an increasingly popular location for film studios to base their entire productions.
The rise of South Africa as a film destination
Since the mid-2000’s, numerous Hollywood productions have employed the services of South Africa’s growing film industry. Lord of War (2005) and Blood Diamond (2006) were two successful films that were shot in the country and arguably opened the door to more Hollywood productions shooting in South Africa.
The biggest development for the South African film industry came in 2010 when Cape Town Film Studios opened. The studio has become so popular that The Globe and Mail claimed that in 2014 it had to turn 32 projects away. Cape Town Film Studios is the first state-of-the-art film studio in sub-Saharan Africa, and between 2011 and 2016 amassed $140 million in film investment.
In 2012, in an effort to increase the film industry’s economic impact on the country, the government introduced a 20% tax reduction for foreign film productions in South Africa, and a further reduction, rising to 22.5%, if post-production stayed in the country.
Three recent films shot in South Africa:
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron was a massive success, breaking new ground not only in cinema but in gaming as well. The blockbuster, which garnered over $1 billion (R13.7 billion) in international blockbuster sales, paved the way for several licensing deals to be inked, with the latest being Lego Marvel’s Avengers.
The superhero company also served as an inspiration to several gaming sites that targeted fans of online gaming. Online recreational portal Slingo, for one, has been hosting superhero-themed games lately to attract superhero fans to their site. Thunderstruck, a game being offered on the site is a direct nod to Thor, and it is thanks to Marvel’s success that such games expanded to non-traditional platforms. Of course, Marvel’s global achievements can be attributed to its association and promotion in different countries, which includes South Africa.
Arguably one of the most famous film productions in South Africa in recent years was District 9. South African filmmaker Neil Blomkamp directed the film and it went on to be a global success. The film was mainly shot on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Producer Andrew Macdonald told Time in an interview that filming in South Africa allowed him to make “something that will look like $100 million (about R136 million) for less than half that figure.”
Despite representing a dystopian fictional city, Dredd used South Africa as a filming location.
The film’s production mostly took place in Cape Town and Johannesburg following generous tax incentives for shooting films within the areas. Most of the landscapes used in Dredd were natural locations, but some were digitally created by the visual effects team at Cape Town Film Studios.
Local filmmakers take the stage
Alongside Hollywood productions, there has also been an increase in South African films made by local filmmakers. Beautiful News informs that Thabang Moleya’s 2016 film, “Happiness is a Four-Letter Word” opened to higher audiences than the Hollywood blockbusters released in the same weekend. Moleya said: “We do have a South Africa audience… an audience that is very supportive of local content. They want good stories told at a high production value”.
With both foreign and local productions thriving it is no wonder that South Africa has a global reputation as an epicenter of film and cinematic production.