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Game of Thrones: TV drama ‘contributes £110m to NI economy’

Daenerys Targaryen
The hit US TV series Game of Thrones is mostly filmed in Northern Ireland and the locations have become tourist attractions for fans of the show

The hit US TV series Game of Thrones is mostly filmed in Northern Ireland and the locations have become tourist attractions for fans of the show

The fantasy adventure TV series Game of Thrones has contributed an estimated £110m to the Northern Ireland economy.

That is according to new figures from Northern Ireland Screen, which has provided production funding for the HBO series.

The programme, some of which is filmed in Northern Ireland, has been nominated for 24 Emmy awards.

Two of those nominations are for Northern Ireland production crew members.

Ronan Hill, who won an Emmy in 2012, has been nominated again for outstanding sound mixing for a drama, while Carla Stronge has been nominated for outstanding casting for a drama.

Northern Ireland sound mixer Ronan Hill, who won an Emmy award in 2012, has been nominated again ahead of this year’s ceremony
Carla Stronge is a first-time Emmy nominee for her casting work on Game of Thrones

Northern Ireland Screen has invested £12.45m in the series since it began in 2010.

For that investment, it is estimated that £110.7m has been spent on goods and services in the Northern Ireland economy.

Tourist attractions

From 2010-14, Game of Thrones brought in between £21m and £23m a year to Northern Ireland. Those figures have been audited.

In 2014-15, in which series five of Game of Thrones was filmed, NI Screen invested £1.6m in the programme, and the return that created is estimated at £22m.

Game of Thrones is filmed at the Titanic Studios in Belfast, and many other locations across Northern Ireland.

Last year, the Queen was among those who visited the Game of Thrones set in Belfast

Many local companies are involved in providing services when the series is in production, and sites from the show have become tourist attractions.

‘Set-jetting phenomenon’

Damian Carr, from Game of Thrones Tours, said fans come from all over the world to visit the filming locations.

“We’ve had people from North and South America, all over Asia – China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan – and all across Europe.

“We started off running one tour a week; now we’re running five.”

Damian Carr, who has been an extra in Game of Thrones, now runs tours of the filming locations used by the TV drama

Richard Williams, chief executive of NI Screen, said Game of Thrones had established Northern Ireland as a world-class location for film and TV production.

“Additionally, films and television programmes have a significant, positive effect on tourism; they contribute to a wider ‘branding’ of people, society and culture, all of which has a very strong influence on creating a desire to travel.

“There is no doubt that Game of Thrones is spearheading this set-jetting phenomenon and we have made no secret of the fact that we hope the show will do for Northern Ireland what Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand,” he said.


From Game of Thrones to Interstellar: How Iceland Became a Hollywood Hotspot


With ice and rock stretching out endlessly across the horizon, the mountainous chasm of the imposing Svínafellsjökull glacier is a bewildering place of beauty that gives the appearance you have just crash-landed on another planet.

It’s no surprise then to find that it is one of the main filming locations in Christopher Nolan’s hugely-anticipated sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar, to be released in cinemas worldwide this November.

Filming at Svínafellsjökull is not unusual. In recent years some of the biggest Hollywood movies have come to Iceland for their productions, with Noah, Oblivion, Prometheus, Thor: The Dark World and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to name a few, along with HBO fantasy epic Game of Thrones filming their ‘beyond the wall’ sequences every year.

But how did such a varied assortment of movies come to be made in a remote, sparsely populated island? Despite being only the same size as Hungary, or the US state of Kentucky, Iceland also happens to be one of the most geologically diverse places on Earth.

“Let’s say you put your base in the south, and you draw a two-hour circle around it; then you’re able to get the big glaciers, the black deserts, the sulphur mountains, the dormant volcanoes, green valleys, big rivers and big waterfalls. You’re probably able to get all those locations in America, but you would have to go Hawaii, Alaska, Minnesota, New Mexico.

So this is our core strength here in Iceland,” say Einar Hansen Tomasson, the country’s film commissioner responsible for attracting international productions to set up shop in Iceland.

Iceland film

Some of the international productions to be filmed in Iceland – Prometheus (top left), Oblivion (top right), Noah (bottom left) and Game of Thrones (bottom right)

Tomasson’s appointment as film commissioner 10 years ago roughly coincides with the boom in Iceland’s film industry. It was in 2005 that the first major Hollywood production came to shoot the majority of not one, but two movies on the island, when Clint Eastwood used the lava-hardened ground and black sandy beaches of the Reykjanes Peninsula to stand in for the Japanese island of Iwo Jima in his World War II diptych Flags of our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima. Tomasson says that the production was a major turning point for Iceland’s film industry.

Iceland Factbox – Capital: Reykjavík – Population: 325,671 – GDP: $12.821 billion (£8 billion)

“You had about 550 crew members on location, you had 1,000 extras on a big day. They were shooting here for about five weeks. It was a massive production, but it still finished a day ahead of schedule. It showed the rest of the film industry that you can shoot those big productions in Iceland,” he says.

Flags opened the floodgates to more and more international productions coming to Iceland, where its stunning scenery, hard-working crew and, as Tomasson boasts, “more daylights hours in the summer than the sunny state of Florida,” all provide a strong incentive.

But the biggest attraction to the Hollywood studios is the generous tax rebate the country offers. Iceland introduced a tax reimbursement scheme for film and TV productions of 12% in 2001, subsequently raised it to 14% in 2007, and then again to 20% in 2010.

“It’s a very competitive environment,” admits Tomasson. “Countries and states are all competing for these projects, and the incentives are getting higher and higher”.

But there is a reason why it is important to attract such investment, especially for a nation like Iceland. The failure of the country’s banking system during the 2007 financial crisis hit the country particularly hard, and whilst it has since recovered, the need to diversify its economy has been realised.

It (Flags of Our Fathers) was a massive production, but it still finished a day ahead of schedule. It showed the rest of the film industry that you can shoot those big productions in Iceland.” Einar Hansen Tomasson

“These international productions also help the domestic productions, meaning we’re getting more experience, better quality, the crew base is getting bigger. Post-production for example in Iceland is growing,” says Tomasson.

As well as helping to fuel the country’s creative industries, having movies shot in Iceland and then seen in cinemas across the world aids another growing industry; screen tourism. As many as 9.4% of the people who visited Iceland last year said they were inspired to visit after seeing the country in a film or television show.

With the number of big movies and television dramas filming in Iceland, this will only increase. As well as Interstellar, both the new Star Wars film and Halo adaptation are filming in the country, along with the next series of Game of Thrones and the Wachowski’s Netflix TV show Sense8.

It seems that as long as science fiction and superhero films remain popular in Hollywood, the biggest international productions will continue to be attracted to shooting in the land of ice and fire.

First four ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 episodes leaked


margaery tyrell game of thrones

UPDATED 12:36 p.m. ET: HBO confirmed the leak in a statement to Mashableon Sunday.

“Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of Game of Thrones originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them. We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred,” a spokesperson said.

Game of Thrones

Torrent downloads of unaired episodes top 500,000 in less than 12 hours

That Game of Thrones producer was right to worry about leaks.

game of thrones sansa stark sophie turner

HBO’s highly-anticipated fifth season of Game of Thrones is getting a premature—and illegal— premiere and fans are freaking out.

The first four episodes of the series started making their way around the Internet Saturday night after being uploaded to several Torrent sites, a day prior to the official Sunday premiere.

The leaks come just one week after Greg Spence, Game of Thrones’ post-production producer, fretted about the likelihood of someone uploading leaked footage to the Internet.

Game of Thrones HBO Bran Stark Hodor

The show also fell victim to a leak back in January when a cellphone captured its trailer premiere.

The show is no stranger to pirating. In fact, it’s the most popular illegally downloaded show in the world.

The four confirmed leaks appear to originate from a screener sent to reviewers ahead of the show’s launch. There are four episodes on the screener.

peter dinklage game of thrones

The leaked episodes are in 480p, which is equivalent to the quality of standard TV, and a digital watermark is blurred. The show is normally shown in 720p or 1080p through HBO.

The purported leaker noted on a private Torrent tracker that the fourth episode would be the final upload for the evening, although they teased that more may be coming.

Game of Thrones fans that want to wait for each Sunday’s episode may have a hard time staying away from spoilers after the leak.

Google’s anti-spoiler technology can’t get here soon enough.

An HBO representative was unavailable to comment on the leaks late Saturday night.

Game of Thrones showrunners on why you haven’t seen THAT character

The showrunners of Game of Thrones are aware of the characters and plotlines that some fans of George R.R. Martin’s books would also like to see in the HBO series. (Or at least vaguely aware, as they avoid reading Thrones reactions online when possible.) Now David Benioff and Dan Weiss are breaking their silence—sort of—on this sensitive issue.

First, I asked Weiss about L.S. (I’m not explaining who the character is since it’s a spoiler). I noted that after she didn’t appear in the fourth season finale, some fans expect to see her in season 5 (despite a certainactor and director saying there are no plans to include the character). So do the producers want to put an end to the speculation?

“We reached that point that commenting individually on what is or is not in the show from the books is a prospect of diminishing returns,” Weiss said. “Early on in the process, it was something we talked about a fair amount.

[The change of strategy is] not out of any disrespect; the fact that people care enough about the books and the show to have arguments about it is something we have huge gratitude and respect for. I just don’t think there’s value in anything we have tosay about it.

It opens a Pandora’s box of questions you could spend your whole life answering, and the net result is that what you said will probably make people less happy than if you hadn’t said anything.”

At another time, during an interview with both Benioff and Weiss, the general subject of “things that are different in the show” came up again.

“People will complain about things because they don’t know what’s coming up ahead,” Benioff said. “ ‘Why haven’t we seen this guy?’ And I think it will be easier once everything is out and it’s 70 hours. Not that people shouldn’t complain—that’s why God invented the Internet—but I think we’d be better able to have that argument later.

Sometimes we’re going in a different order or telling a different story. We think the story will all make sense at the end. Otherwise it will be eight wasted years.”

At the very least, this seems to suggest there may be elements from Martin’s saga that may yet be included in the series in some form, even though they were introduced in the books at an earlier time. Or it could simply mean, Wait until this is over, then decide if we nailed it.

“Maybe when it’s all said and done, we can take a rock-throwing tour around the world,” Weiss said. “People can throw rocks at us for everything we did ‘wrong’!”

Or stones, perhaps?

‘Game of Thrones’ Actor to Play Villain in ‘Maze Runner’ Sequel

Aidan Gillen - H 2014

Aidan Gillen, who plays Game of Thrones character Littlefinger, will play the villain in Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, 20th Century Fox’s just-announced sequel to The Maze Runner.

The Maze Runner is an adaptation of the first installment of the James Dashner YA trilogy. The movie, directed by Wes Ball, topped last weekend’s box office with a solid $32.5 million.

The movie also grossed $37.6 million from 50 markets for a worldwide total of $81.5 million (the film began rolling out in several territories last weekend). The film has yet to open in 27 markets, including nine of the top 15.

Ball is back for the sequel as are the producers, Temple Hill Entertainment and the Gotham Group. Lead Dylan O’Brien is also back.

The story picks up — spoiler alert — after our teen heroes escape the deadly maze and are now in the run on an Earth that is a wasteland and ravaged by solar flares.

Gillen will play Janson, who becomes the main antagonist of the Maze Runner books. He is also referred to as Rat-Man.

The movie is due to begin shooting at the end of October.

Gillen, an Irish actor with plenty of credits back in the U.K. film and TV scene, also played a CIA operative in the opening sequence of The Dark Knight.

He is repped by Greene and Associates, Independent Talent Group and the Coronel Group.

Games of Throne production suffers setback as nude scene is banned by Dubrovnik church

The crew applied to the local film commission in the Croatian city to shoot the racy scene, which sees Cersi, played by Lena Headley, embarking on a ‘walk of penance’ through the streets of King’s landing, but the request was rejected according to TMZ.com.

It’s understood, the Croatian church has ‘a rigid policy against public displays of sexuality’ and as a result has left the team desperately searching for a new location.

Lena Headley 'walk of penace scene' has been banned

Despite the major set back, the pivotal scene will still be filmed due to its importance in the storyline.

It is also considered a memorable moment from the George R.R. Martin’s novel A Dance With Dragons, the fifth of seven from his Song Of Fire And Ice series, which the show is based on.

Double take: Portion of picturesque Dubrovnik double for fictioonal Game Of Thrones citadel King's Landing 

The 65-year-old author previously opened up about the level of attention he has received as a result of the show.

Speaking to The Guardian he said: “A few years ago I came to Edinburgh wife my wife and we were able to listen to the street musicians and go to plays and comedy performances and the military Tattoo

“And, in the whole week we were here, maybe three people recognised me, and I was happy to sign an autograph for them.”

He added: “Now, three or four people recognise me every block. I can’t go out any more; I can’t walk the streets. And it’s great to have all these readers and fans who, for the most part, are very nice people, saying they love the books and the TV show.”

A majority of the filming for the fifth season, which will air in April 2015, has been filmed on location across Northern Ireland.

The following two series of the hit HBO show will only come into fruition once Martin has physically written the novels, including The Winds Of Winter and A Dream Of Spring – neither of which has a release date.

The fantasy drama series, has been nominated in an incredible 19 categories in tonight’s Emmy Awards.

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards take place tonight at NOKIA Theatre L.A. live in Los Angeles.

Game of Thrones actor JJ Murphy dies four days into filming

Game of Thrones Actor Dies Just Days Into Shooting

The 86-year-old Northern Irish actor died on Friday, days into filming his role as Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night’s Watch

Actor JJ Murphy has died just four days into filming his scenes for the new season of HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones.

The Belfast-born actor, who was 86, was cast to play the role of Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night’s Watch, in the fifth season of the adaptation of George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. He reportedly collapsed and died on Friday, 8 August, having shot only a few scenes in the role.

JJ Murphy, who was cast to play Ser Denys Mallister in the fifth season of Game of Thrones
Actor JJ Murphy, who was cast to play Ser Denys Mallister in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

According to his agent Phillip Young, Murphy was “absolutely delighted”, to be cast “in one of the biggest productions in the world at this stage in his career.”

Having been working in the Northern Irish theatre scene from the late 1940s, Murphy was an active member of Equity, the British actors’ union, and had worked for years at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre. His death, says Young, is a “tragic loss” and comes at the end of a “long and full career”.

Murphy was no stranger to book adaptations; his past film credits include the film version of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. Gary Shore’s big budget film Dracula Untold, which will be released in October of this year, features Murphy as a village elder.

Game of Thrones producers are yet to confirm whether they intend to recast his part, or order a rewrite of the scenes he had been set to film.

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