Over the years, South Africa’s varied landscapes have been a favorite set location for Hollywood productions. Worldwide hits shot at least partly in the country include “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, “Lord of War,” featuring Nicolas Cage, and “Invictus,” Clint Eastwood’s take on South Africa’s victory at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Moviegoers stormed cinemas around the United States to watch “Chronicle,” turning the superhero thriller into a surprise hit that topped the U.S. box office on Super Bowl weekend. Although set in Seattle, “Chronicle’s” producers decided to shoot in South Africa, lured by the country’s low production costs and growing reputation as an attractive destination for international filmmaking.
The impact of large film projects is significantly increasing the tech and acting talent pool in South Africa and boosting the already large film industry. Good news for The Network and all our clients!
Top 10 Hollywood Films Made in South Africa & Namibia
Here is a selection of American movies filmed in South Africa, including Mad Max – Fury Road, a recent mega-hit filmed in nearby Namibia, a magnificent location where The Network often films, District 9, Chronicle, 2001: A Space Odyssey and more.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road is an action film directed and produced by George Miller, and written by Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris. The fourth instalment in the Mad Max franchise, it was filmed in Namibia with a large contingent of South African crew and technical support. The film is set in a future desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities. It has grossed over US$378 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in the Mad Max franchise. Widely acclaimed for its screenplay, action sequences, and art direction, the film was ranked by many critics as the best film of 2015, as well as one of the greatest action films ever made. Fury Road won multiple critical and guild awards, and received ten Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for George Miller. It won six: Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. Happy end of the world! Starring Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, Nicholas Hoult as Nux, John Howard (II) as People Eater, Richard Norton as Imperator, Gillian Jones as The Vuvalini, and Teresa Palmer. Rotten Tomatoes: With exhilarating action and a surprising amount of narrative heft, Mad Max: Fury Road brings George Miller’s post-apocalyptic franchise roaring vigorously back to life.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a 2015 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the eleventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series, written and directed by Joss Whedon. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers fight Ultron, an artificial intelligence obsessed with causing human extinction. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, James Spader, and Samuel L. Jackson. Rotten Tomatoes: Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor’s unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe.
Chronicle is a 2012 American found footage superhero thriller film directed by Josh Trank in his directorial debut, and written by Max Landis based on a story by both. It follows three Seattle high school seniors, bullied Andrew (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and more popular Steve (Michael B. Jordan), who form a bond after gaining telekinetic powers from an unknown object. Starring Dane DeHaan as Andrew Detmer, Alex Russell as Matt Garetty, Michael B. Jordan as Steve Montgomery, Michael Kelly as Richard Detmert, Ashley Hinshaw as Casey Letter, Anna Wood as Monica, and Bo Petersen as Karen Detmer. Rotten Tomatoes: Chronicle transcends its found-footage gimmick with a smart script, fast-paced direction, and engaging performances from the young cast.
District 9: Director Neill Blomkamp teams with producer Peter Jackson for this tale of extraterrestrial refugees stuck in contemporary South Africa. It’s been 28 years since the aliens made first contact, but there was never any attack from the skies, nor any profound technological revelation capable of advancing our society. Set and shot in Johannesburg with a South African cast and crew, District 9 is a sci-fi thriller that made headlines, capturing audiences with an innovative storyline and special effects. Starring s Dirk Michaels Jason Cope as Christopher Johnson, Grey Bradnam – UKNR Chief Correspondent/Christopher Johnson Nick Boraine, as Craig Weldon, Sharlto Copley as Wikus Van de Merwe, Greg Melvill-Smith as Interviewer, and Nathalie Boltt as Sarah Livingstone – Sociologist. Rotten Tomatoes: Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.
Fueled by bombastic violence and impressive special effects, rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor, Dredd 3D does a remarkable job of capturing its source material’s gritty spirit. Rotten Tomatoes: The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Starring Evan Rachel Wood as Control Operator 1, Lena Headey as Ma-Ma, Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, Wood Harris as Kay, Olivia Thirlby as Cassandra Anderson, and Jason Cope as Zwirner.
Invictus is an uplifting historical drama about South Africa’s bid to win the Rugby World Cup in 1995. The Movie was directed by Clint Eastwood and featured Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The film tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match. Starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, Leleti Khumalo as Mary, Bonnie Henna as Zindzi, Tony Kgoroge as Jason Tshabalala, and Lida Botha as Mrs. Brits. Rotten Tomatoes: Delivered with typically stately precision from director Clint Eastwood, Invictus may not be rousing enough for some viewers, but Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman inhabit their real-life characters with admirable conviction.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrik’s 1968 science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to be regarded as one of the most influential films ever made. As well as receiving four Academy Award nominations, one of which it won for its visual effects, in 1991 it was granted a coveted spot in the USA’s National Film Registry. Though most of the movie was shot in British production studios, the opening scene – set in Cenozoic-era Africa – features stunning shots of Namibia’s fiery, sun-speared horizons. 2001 earned Stanley Kubrick an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, as well as nominations for Best Director and Original Screenplay (shared with Arthur C. Clarke). Anthony Masters was also nominated for Best Art Direction. Starring rank Miller (II) Keir Dullea as David Bowman, Gary Lockwood as Frank Poole, Leonard Rossiter as Smyslov, Ed Bishop as Aries 1B-Lunar Shuttle Captain, and Arthur C. Clarke. Rotten Tomatoes: One of the most influential of all sci-fi films — and one of the most controversial — Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 is a delicate, poetic meditation on the ingenuity — and folly — of mankind.
Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990’s Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer–a South African mercenary–and Solomon Vandy–a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Danny Archer, Jennifer Connelly as Maddy Bowen, Djimon Hounsou as Solomon Vandy, Stephen Collins as Ambassador Walker, and Jimi Mistry as Nabil Ato Essandoh as Commander Rambo. Rotten Tomatoes: Blood Diamond overcomes poor storytelling with its biting commentary and fine performances.
Lord of War
Lord of War is a carefully choreographed devil’s dance in which Nicolas Cage finds fleet-footed rejuvenation as a man aware evil can’t exist without good, but that evil often wins. Stars Nicolas Cage as Yuri Orlov, Jared Leto as Vitaly Orlov, Bridget Moynahan as Ava Fontaine, Ian Holm as Simeon Weisz, Eamonn Walker as Andre Baptiste Sr., and Donald Sutherland as Col. Oliver Southern. Rotten Tomatoes: One man demonstrates how to get rich selling warring nations the tools of their deadly trade in this dark comedy drama. Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) is an opportunistic businessman who stumbled into a gold mine after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynold’s new thriller Safe House is pure adrenaline. The sheer force of action ricochets through the theater as Team Washington and Reynolds deliver one intense action film. Denzel plays traitorous CIA agent Tobin Frost, whose predatory gaze and suave demeanor both slices and charms. He’s an ex-agent who has seen and done terrible things and has finally reached a limit. His gruff persona exudes exhaustion, yet manages to stay slick and venomous. Watching Frost wreck havoc on his assailants is entertaining, but Washington adds much more to the character than just typical beat downs. (Fox News) Starring Brendan Gleeson as David Barlow, Ryan Reynolds as Matt Weston, Ruben Blades as Carlos Villar, Robert Patrick as Daniel Kiefer, Vera Farmiga as Catherine Linklater, and Denzel Washington as Tobin Frost. Rotten Tomatoes: Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star in the action-thriller Safe House. Washington plays the most dangerous renegade from the CIA, who comes back onto the grid after a decade on the run.
Ask the Dust
Ask the Dust: Farrell and costar Salma Hayek have rarely been so affecting, or so effective, as self-hating ethnics who find love. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Donald Sutherland as Hellfrick, Idina Menzel as Vera Rifkin, Eileen Atkins as Mrs. Hargraves, Colin Farrell as Arturo Bandini, and Salma Hayek as Camilla Lopez. Rotten Tomatoes: Adapted from a novel by John Fante, Robert Towne’s Ask the Dust stars Colin Farrell as Arturo Bandini, a young writer who comes to Los Angeles during the Great Depression in order to write a novel. As the film opens, he is down to his last nickel and decides to spend it on coffee in a diner. He is served by Camilla (Salma Hayek), a Mexican beauty he is instantly attracted to even though he treats her horribly during their first interaction.