SCOTLAND is set to get one of its biggest film premieres since the heady days of Braveheart and Rob Roy two decades ago - with a lavish new version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The 1900-capacity Festival Theatre in Edinburgh has secured a star-studded UK premiere of a new big-screen blockbuster, which was filmed on the Isle of Skye last year.
Critics have heaped praised on the performances of Hollywood superstars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard - both of whom are due in Edinburgh for the unveiling of Macbeth on 27 September, ahead of its release on 2 October.
Fassbender, who was nominated for an Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave, has the titular role in the film, while Cotillard - who won an Oscar for La Vie en Rose - plays Lady Macbeth.
Fellow stars Paddy Considine and David Thewlis, and the film’s Australian director Justin Kurzel, are also confirmed for the red carpet.
Macbeth is one of the most eagerly-awaited Scottish films of the year, along with Terence Davies’ Sunset Song, which will receive its UK premiere at the London Film Festival next month.
Financed by Film4 and StudioCanal, it is billed as “a story of a man damaged by war trying to rebuild his relationship with his beloved wife as they grapple with the forces of ambition and desire.”
It received widespread acclaim from critics when it had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May and more than 2.6 million people have since viewed a trailer released the following month.
VisitScotland has joined forces with StudioCanal, the film’s distributors, to organise Macbeth’s UK premiere, which will be following by a glittering after-party at the National Museum of Scotland.
Both venues have been used for red-carpet galas of the Edinburgh International Film Festival in recent years, including The Legend of Barney Thomson, Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut, this summer, and the European premiere of the Disney-Pixar animated feature Brave in 2012.
The tourism agency, which is mounting a high-profile campaign on the back of the film. is hoping Skye will see a substantial spin-off after the film’s release next month - along with other locations linked to Macbeth, including Cawdor Castle, in Nairn, and Glamis Castle, in Angus.
The cast and crew spent around two weeks filming on the island, with locations including the dramatic scenery of the Quiraing mountains, in the Staffin area, the Old Man of Storr at Trotternish, and the Fairy Pools, near Glenbrittle.
Mike Cantlay, VisitScotland’s chairman, said: “The new film adaptation will generate renewed excitement and interest in one of Scotland’s most intriguing figures.
“As well as Skye serving as a stunning filming location, historic locations with a strong connection to Macbeth could also experience a surge in visitor numbers as film fans around the world seek to learn more about the man being portrayed by Michael Fassbender.”
Natalie Usher, director of Screen at Creative Scotland, which ploughed £200,000 into the production, said: “We are delighted that Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth will receive its UK premiere in Scotland.
“Filmed on location in Skye, our locations teams worked hard to guide the production and our actors and crews played a huge part in the interpretation of Justin’s vision for Macbeth.
“We are really proud to have supported this remarkable adaptation of such a well-known work. We wish the film every success.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “Macbeth is the latest in a long line of major productions to be filmed in Scotland.
“The much-anticipated movie will showcase our stunning scenery and our rich heritage to audiences around the world, encouraging new and return visitors to come and see all Scotland has to offer.”
The spectacular landscape on Skye has had brief but notable starring roles in a string of films.
The famous opening credits of The Wicker Man show Edward Woodward flying over the Old Man of Storr and the Trotternish coastline, before he lands at nearby Plockton.
The Old Man of Storr can also be seen, along with the Quiraing, in the final scenes of the 1975 fantasy adventure The Land That Time Forgot, starring Doug McClure and Susan Penhaligon.
Some of the opening scenes of 1980 sci-fi epic Flash Gordon were filmed at Ashaig landing strip, near Broadford, with Robbie Coltrane in one of his earliest screen roles as a baggage handler.
Although 1987 fantasy Highlander was filmed largely at Eilean Donan Castle, on Loch Shiel, two locations on Skye were used for dramatic sword-fighting sequences – the Cioch, a rock outcrop from the face of Sron Na Ciche in the Black Cuillin mountain range, and the Table plateau in the Quiraing.
Lars Von Trier’s 1996 drama Breaking the Waves, with Emily Watson, was filmed at Neist Point and on the Quiraing road, as well as at Mallaig and Lochailort on the mainland.
The first ever Gaelic-language feature film, Seachd – The Innaccessible Pinnacle, was produced on Skye in 2007 by islander Chris Young – who went on to work on The Inbetweeners – and was at the centre of controversy after Bafta refused to put it forward for an Academy Award.
The following year, the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book Stardust, with Claire Danes, Michelle Pfieffer, Sienna Miller and Robert De Niro, was shot in various locations on Skye, including the Fairy Glen.
Director Ridley Scott last year filmed – and set – part of sci-fi thriller Prometheus, his long-awaited Alien prequel, on Skye, using the Old Man of Storr.
And the Quiraing was featured again in Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron.
Chris Young, who went on to produce the sitcom The Inbetweeners after working on Seachd, has been making BBC Alba’s long-running drama serial Bannan on Skye for the last two years.