Walt Disney Pictures will spend millions in the Southern Interior filming Tomorrowland near Enderby, but the long-term benefits could be even greater with a successful shoot.
Okanagan film commissioner Jon Summerland can now confirm what The Daily Courier published on Tuesday: cameras will roll for the Hollywood blockbuster starting Aug. 19 and then on and off through mid-September.
The high-profile mystery-adventure film, scheduled for release in December 2014, will star two-time Academy Award winner George Clooney, Hugh Laurie (TV series House), Britt Robertson (TV series Under the Dome), Raffey Cassidy (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Thomas Robinson (The Switch).
It will be directed, produced and co-written by two-time Oscar winner Brad Bird, who was responsible for Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and The Incredibles. The film also will be produced by Damon Lindelof from Star Trek: Into Darkness and Prometheus, using a screenplay written by Lindelof, Bird and Jeff Jenson.
It's described as "one of the most mysterious and anticipated movies in a long time," and focuses on Walt Disney, Disneyland and the Tomorrowland section of the popular California amusement park.
"It's a massive movie for us to have," said Summerland. "The circus is coming to town here.
"There is going to be a very big impact. Every Ma and Pa shop to conglomerates will feel the impact of these guys in a positive way."
The Association of Film Commissioners International estimates an average $50-million movie involves spending of US$150,000 a day. Tomorrowland is "in the hundreds of millions," said Summerland.
Disney will employ 300 people at the North Okanagan movie set, so every hotel room is expected to be booked from the Shuswap south. Those include everyone from the director, camera operators, sound and lighting technicians to makeup artists, hairstylists, wardrobe personnel and security people. Most will come from Vancouver and Hollywood with a few local people hired.
"The art department is huge; that's who is up there now," Summerland said. "Parking alone will cover five acres. There's going to be trailers for the talent, for hair and makeup, for the director, helipads for flying in and out. There's huge cranes all over the place."
The movie set will not be open to the public, Summerland emphasized.
"This is one of two major movies we're working on for this year. Plus, I've all the little guys who are hiring the locals. We are poised to be the next hub. We are, right now, probably the busiest region in B.C., outside of the Vancouver region. The last three years, we've gotten bigger and bigger. And we are going to get bigger."
When Disney announced it was looking for a wheat field setting, Summerland showed the scouts Okanagan wheat fields. When the scouts arrived, they said: "We like the rolling hills, we like the mountains, we like that cliff (Enderby Cliffs) back there," he said.
"I spent our small scouting budget getting this one. I was not going to let these guys go. It came here because of our beautiful location. It is one of the more important locations in the film. They are shooting in the Lower Mainland and elsewhere in the world. They'd love to use a studio if we had one - then they could save more in tax credits - but we don't have one."
When three vehicles pulled up in Enderby last winter and 21 production heads stepped out, "I was probably the only one that had not touched an Oscar-winning show," he said.
"Everyone that was there was the cream of the crop."
They included the VP of Disney and the Oscar-winning cinematographer for Life of Pi, he said.
"Everyone was an Academy Award winner. They were pros, they were gentlemen and they were nice. It was a pleasure to work with this type of crew. Usually, you're trying to find the best ways to save them money. They just wanted the best product to make a movie, and that was us."
Having a film, cast and crew of this calibre coming to the Okanagan to shoot is a highlight in the history of filming in the Okanagan, he said.
"Being in the company of as many Oscar-winning filmmakers and actors is also a highlight in my career so far. I really hope they have a fabulous shoot so they come back."