Disney film boosts local economy

Walt Disney Pictures’ Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, begins shooting in Enderby, Grindrod and Armstrong Monday

George Clooney

George Clooney

A big-budget sci-fi flick could bolster the future of Okanagan film production.

Walt Disney Pictures’ Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, begins shooting in Enderby, Grindrod and Armstrong Monday.

“This has blown away any movie we’ve ever had before,” said Jon Summerland, the Okanagan’s film commissioner, of Tomorrowland and its $250 million budget.

“It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Other communities were also considered for filming, which will continue off and on until mid-September, but the North Okanagan was ultimately selected.

“We were looking for a particular farm setting and we found it,” said Lee Anne Muldoon, Tomorrowland publicist.

Discussions have been underway between the Okanagan Film Commission and Disney officials since last year.

“Without the film commission working tirelessly on this project, there is no doubt the movie would have located elsewhere,” said John Trainor, OFC chairperson and an Armstrong city councillor.

No details are being released about specific locations, and because it will be a closed set, locals will not be able to mingle with the stars.

“Mr. Clooney will not be with us all of the time,” said Muldoon.

Besides the cast, there will be a crew of about 300 people.

“They will hire very few locals but the crew will be in every hotel and every restaurant,” said Summerland of the potential economic impact.

“There won’t be one company that won’t be touched some how.”

And there could be benefits long-term as the OFC tries to draw other productions to the region.

“It will be a major sales tool for us,” said Summerland.

“I will be going to every producer about this.”

Summerland also anticipates Tomorrowland could influence people making vacation plans.

“This is a Lord of the Rings. People will come to Enderby to see where Tomorrowland was shot,” he said.

The Enderby Chamber of Commerce is also looking at how to capitalize on the movie.

“Our best approach is to use these events as a way to reposition our city as an area that is suitable to host large events and/or productions,” said Corinne Peard, chamber general manager.

“We have beautiful landscape and agricultural land that mirrors larger areas yet we have small town appeal that provides unique shopping experiences, small eateries serving up locally produced food and great community spirit.”

Parts of Tomorrowland, which will be released Dec. 12, 2014, are also being filmed in Alberta, Vancouver, France and Florida.

“The main place, though, is Enderby,” said Summerland.