Cape Town was the common denominator in two box office smash hits released a week apart in America. The city, TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Best Destination in the World for 2011, doubled for Seattle in the Josh Trank-helmed sci-fi adventure 'Chronicle,' but had a rare starring role as itself in 'Safe House,' a CIA-themed action thriller starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.
'Safe House,' released last Friday, 10 February 2012, raked in $40.2m, a narrow second behind 'The Vow.' This was the first time in box office history that two films had topped the $40m threshold on the same weekend in February.
'Chronicle,' which opened on 3 February 2012, topped the notoriously slow Super Bowl weekend with a $22m opening - a somewhat unforeseen success given the modest $12m budget and Fox projections that their film would make only $8 million. With an average rating of 86% on critic aggregator site RottenTomatoes.com, 'Chronicle' has been widely praised.
Cape Town-based production company Film Afrika Worldwide shot 'Chronicle' for US-based Davis Entertainment, while 'Safe House' filmed in South Africa with Moonlighting Films.
For 'Chronicle,' Oscar® nominee Stephen Altman ('Ray,' 'Gosford Park') turned Cape Town into the very distinctive city of Seattle, complete with its landmark Space Needle and the feel of American suburbia.
The picture was shot on location in and around Cape Town, with the city centre used to film groundbreaking stunt and visual effects sequences where the superheroes imploded or ‘threw’ vehicles into buildings. Josh singled out South African visual effects supervisor Simon Hansen for helping create “flying like you've really never seen in a movie before. It is really the most realistic flying I've ever seen."
The international filmmakers had explored various production centers around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Vancouver, Michigan, and Louisiana. Ultimately, the producers believed it made sense to bring the movie to Cape Town because it offers a solid infrastructure, a world-class crew and the new, state-of-the-art sound stages at Cape Town Film Studios.
"It is extremely gratifying when all the hard work delivers something remarkable that audiences worldwide want to see,” says David Wicht, CEO of Film Afrika. “This is yet again a testament to the quality of our crews, the attraction of a world-class studio like Cape Town Film Studios, and the versatility of Cape Town as a location. Without the fantastic support we received from the city at all levels, this film would not have been possible. In addition, the Department of Trade and Industry’s recent decision to lift the cap on its Production Incentive Scheme has markedly increased the attraction to filming in and with South Africa.”
Also in Cape Town, Film Afrika has just completed 'Labyrinth' for Tandem Communications and Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free Films. Film Afrika’s impressive track record of producing major international film projects in Southern Africa includes the Emmy-winning productions 'Gettysburgh' and 'America: The Story of Us', the Emmy-nominated 'No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency' and 'Endgame,' and Halle Berry’s upcoming 'Dark Tide.'