The superheroes of Avengers: Infinity War have helped more than double the value of film and television productions to Edinburgh in a year.
Seven weeks of filming of the blockbuster on the city’s streets after three months of preparations were responsible for the majority of the record £16.1 million generated for the economy.
Two new feature film biopics – of Mary Queen of Scots and Robert the Bruce – were among the other high-profile productions to deploy locations in and around the city.
More than 400 crew members worked on the filming of Avengers: Infinity War, with the production taking over parts of the Old Town, including Waverley Station, Cockburn Street and the Royal Mile, for the shooting of key scenes.
Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany all star in the eagerly-anticipated film, which hits cinemas in April. The Film Edinburgh commission, which liaises with production companies and location managers, said Avengers: Infinity War was “the largest and [most] complex shoot ever to film in the historic Old Town” and was worth at least £10m to the economy.
Brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, co-directors of Avengers: Infinity War and a 2019 sequel, said they “jumped at the chance” to film scenes in the city because it had never been used as the “backdrop” to a big action film before.
Speaking during the making of the movie last year, Joe Russo said: “It’s one of the more cinematic cities I’ve seen. I’m shocked that it hasn’t been over-shot, but I’m happy that we really get to show off the city in a large-scale film like Avengers.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Edinburgh a few times over the last few years and I just loved the city. It’s amazingly well-preserved, the architecture is stunning and we had an idea for a sequence that we thought would pair very well with the city.”
The new economic impact figures Film Edinburgh has released for 2017 involve a number of other major films and TV shows, including the return of the Sony-Starz time-travel fantasy series Outlander, which used locations on and around the Royal Mile for a number of scenes which were actually set in the city.
The city and its surrounding landscapes are set for unprecedented cinematic exposure this year with Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie appearing in Mary Queen of Scots and Chris Pine starring in Outlaw King, the Netflix film about Robert the Bruce, which were filmed in East Lothian and Edinburgh during extensive shoots across the country.
Matt Jones, supervising location manager for Avengers: Infinity War and Outlaw King, said: “I’ve worked all over the world on feature films and it was a real pleasure to come back to Edinburgh with Avengers: Infinity War and Outlaw King.
“That Edinburgh was able to host this scale of production is a real credit to the city, and we felt supported every step of the way by the city council and its film office, Film Edinburgh, who went out of their way to make us feel welcome and facilitate our requirements.”
The 2017 figures easily surpassed the previous record year, 2016, a lengthy shoot on Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting helping boost the value of the industry to £7.7m. In total there were 1,068 days of filming of 348 productions last year, compared to 322 productions across 938 days during the previous 12 months.
Other productions shot in and around the city included Songs of Praise, Britain’s Coastal Railways with Julie Walters, Bargain Hunt, Robbie Coltrane’s Critical Evidence, Location Location Location, Geordie Shore, Grand Designs, X Factor and The Voice.
Film Edinburgh manager Rosie Ellison: “It has been a fantastic year and the impact of Avengers: Infinity War has been a large contributor to that. We’re looking forward to the film opening in April, and encourage fans to come and see it in Edinburgh.
“Accommodating feature films lshows the industry that not only is Edinburgh a uniquely stunning and historical location, it also has the infrastructure in place to support big budget productions, and we’re hugely proud to have worked on such a range of exciting projects.”