'Bourne Legacy' Puts Seoul on Hollywood Radar

A trailer of the fourth installment in the popular spy series "The Bourne Legacy" -- starring Jeremy Renner instead of Matt Damon -- was unveiled ahead of its release in August, stirring responses from movie fans here as it features scenes shot in Seoul.

Some parts of "The Bourne Legacy" were shot at subway stations in Gangnam and nearby areas in the capital for two days last year, the Seoul Film Commission said.

"It might be the first time that a Hollywood film has featured Seoul. 'The Bourne Legacy' production team was apparently drawn to Seoul as it has been less exposed in films than other Asian metropolises like Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai," it said.

Seoul is becoming an increasingly popular location for foreign films. The number of foreign movies for which the commission provided some administrative support more than doubled from 10 in 2008 to 24 last year.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is also running a program to support 25 percent of the production costs spent by foreign production companies, up to a maximum of 100 million. In 2008, only five films benefited from the program, but this rose to 10 in 2011. As of June this year, five films have been selected to enjoy the program's patronage.

According to the commission, Southeast Asian producers began shooting films in Seoul in the late 2000s due to the Korean Wave, and most were successful in their domestic markets.

In 2006 and 2007, the beneficiaries of the program were mostly documentaries produced by the U.K. or the U.S., as well as low-budget films. But from 2009, the trend began to change.

The Thai fim "Hello Stranger" was shot in Seoul in 2009, and over 90 percent of the scenes feature famous tourist spots such as Myeong-dong, Deoksu Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, and Mt. Nam. The movie revolves around a romance between a young Thai couple who meet in Seoul while on holiday. It was the third-most successful film at the Thai box office in 2010.

Other foreign films made in Seoul also became box office hits in their respective countries last year, including "Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme" in the Philippines and "Aku Ada Kau Ada" in Malaysia.

But experts point out that Seoul lacks a strong landmark or cultural symbol to attract big Hollywood and European productions. The commission said it invited Hollywood producers to look around Seoul early this year and they expressed interest in pockets of the city with a more traditional setting and unique atmosphere.

That suggests Seoul's fast development and modernization could work against it with some filmmakers, so it will have to preserve its distinctive traditional charms to become a world-class location, the commission added.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 28, 2012 12:30 KST