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Is ‘Avengers’ shoot worth such a super hassle?

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Mar 26,2014
When Disney’s Marvel Studios decided to shoot part of the upcoming “Avengers” sequel in Seoul, the city government and state-run film agencies welcomed the decision with fanfare - and with rosy estimates about potential benefits from the elevation of Seoul’s image and the boost it will give to tourism.

But in the face of unprecedented traffic control on some of the city’s busiest districts for more than 10 days, some are questioning whether the government is offering too much support to the filming of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” at the expense of citizens’ convenience.

The areas that will be blocked off will include major bridges on the Han River such as Cheongdam and Mapo bridges, and important arteries near Gangnam subway station and Digital Media City (DMC) in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, starting from March 30 through April 13.

This is the first time the city will restrict traffic across Seoul for such an extended period to facilitate the filming of a movie.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hollywood studio earlier this month promising robust cooperation.

The city will adjust the routes of some 70 buses and make alternate bus stops so that public transportation, as well as private cars, won’t disturb the filming.

“I am worried because I need to commute to my workplace near the controlled road,” said Choi Seon-kyung, who works at CJ Entertainment in Sangam-dong. The building is located at DMC, home to various media and entertainment companies, including the Korea JoongAng Daily.

“I can’t understand why they have to block traffic from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday,” she continued, “These are commuting hours for many office workers. The film should’ve been shot on weekends.” Choi said that many of her coworkers prefer commuting by bus because the DMC area is a 15-minute walk from the subway station. Buses get commuters closer to their offices.

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous to say that the filming here will boost tourism,” said Lee Min-seob, a 27-year-old who works for a finance company in Gangnam District.

“I am a big fan of ‘The Avengers,’ but the movie is not about presenting a breathtaking landscape as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ did,” he said.

“The characters are trying to protect the earth against attackers and most of the scenes include the demolition and burning down of buildings,” he continued. “Seoul is not even a main location for the film. I don’t know why the city is making such a big fuss.”

Officials from the Korea Tourism Organization, Seoul Film Commission, Gyeonggi and Film Commission and Korean Film Council took part in the agreement with Marvel Studios. The Korean Film Council said that the shooting will generate 10.7 billion won ($9.9 million) worth of added value to Korea and draw 620,000 more tourists, although the method of calculation is obscure.

The studio said it will portray Seoul as a futuristic city known for advanced IT industries. “The Avengers” was a major hit in Korea with sales of more than 7 million tickets.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]





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