Macau first shot to fame as a Hollywood moviemaking centre with the 1974 James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun. It has been a popular location for international filmmakers ever since and receives over 100 filming applications annually.
With its own international film festival launched last year and with China’s growing influence on the global film industry, some have even gone as far as dubbing Macau the Hollywood of the Far East.
From James Bond to Johnny English and more recent productions like Now You See Me 2, we take a look back at some of Macau’s finest Hollywood movie moments – those that have all played their part in helping to immortalise this tiny city on the big screen.
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
007 is no stranger to Macau shores; the city has so far featured in two James Bond classics. The first was 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun starring Roger Moore as the famous spy agent.
In the film Bond goes to Macau to find a weapons manufacturer named Lazar who allegedly has manufactured golden bullets for the film’s main villain Scaramanga. Bond is driven to Lazar's gun shop in a cycle rickshaw, but just before he arrives he passes in front of a casino called Casino de Macau.
Scenes were shot in and around Macau’s then famous floating casino “Macau Palace”. The casino was docked near what is now the Ponte 16 Sofitel Hotel. Unfortunately, today the casino is abandoned and moored near the Fai Chi Kei district.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
The opening scenes of this Hollywood blockbuster were shot in Macau. The storyline involved Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) trying to do a deal with the evil Lao Che at a club called Club Obi Wan. Jones gets poisoned for his troubles and then shot at before jumping out of the window of the club and making off in a car whilst being chased by the baddies.
The building used for the filming was a hotel called the Pensão Sun Sun Hotel and it was located near to the inner harbour along Praca De Ponte E Horte. Today, the Pensão Sun Sun Hotel has been replaced by another building. It's still a hotel on the site but now it's the Best Western Hotel Sun Sun.
Shanghai Surprise (1986)
The romantic adventure starring superstar singer Madonna and her then Husband, Sean Penn, filmed several scenes in Macau. Notably, the opening shots of the movie were filmed around the Taipa House Museum in Macau – which remains a popular tourist site today.
In the film, Sean Penn’s character is put up at a hotel called the Penang Hotel and a fair bit of action seems to have been filmed here. In reality, the building was an old dilapidated hotel called the "Hotel Cantao" on Rua do Guimaraes street, which today has been renovated into a stylish cafe.
The film was generally considered a flop worldwide and media reports of Madonna and her husband being hounded by fans during their stay seemed to dominate the local newspaper headlines.
Johnny English Reborn (2011)
This action comedy starring Rowan Atkinson (famous for his Mr Bean Character) was a parody of James Bond secret agent movies. Whilst a great number of scenes were shot in neighbouring Hong Kong, the cast and crew did make it over to Macau where they shot a few scenes outside the Hotel Lisboa and inside the Grand Lisboa hotel.
The action sequences such as the rooftop fights were also shot in Macau. Apart from that, there were a number of spectacular scenes shot in casinos, shops, and streets of Macau.
2012’s highest grossing film starring Daniel Craig as James Bond does feature Macau, but more in the way of a reference to the past. The film sees Bond end up at a floating casino in Macau.
However, the "Floating Dragon" casino seen in the movie is a fictitious casino that was created in a studio for the film, but the inspiration for the building comes from the original 'Macau Palace Casino' featured in the 1974 bond film Man With The Golden Gun that was shot on location.
Now You See Me 2 (2016)
This American heist thriller was the most recent Hollywood blockbuster to be shot in Macau and featured a star-studded line-up including Daniel Radcliffe, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson.
A good 45 mins minutes of the movie is set in Macau with primary locations including Sands Macao Hotel, Macao Science Centre, The Venetian, Rua da Felicidade dubbed as Macau’s “street of happiness”, Sao Domingos Municipal Market and Iong’s Magic Shop.
The filming itself attracted a lot of attention locally with people flocking to the various filming locations to catch a glimpse of the action. For its most recent starring role in a Hollywood movie, Macau came off with a positive persona – much of which was focused on the allure of its Cotai Strip – the gambling, the luxury etc. The film was a relative success grossing $334 million worldwide.
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