One of the things that have helped make the various superheroes populating the Marvel Comics universe feel like they all live in a shared world is the setting of so many of their adventures – New York City. So with Marvel’s cinematic heroes getting ready to meet up in The Avengers, it was just assumed that the film would do most of its production work in the Big Apple. Unfortunately, it seems as if that is not to be.
Bleeding Cool is reporting that when director Joss Whedon starts production on the film, a majority of it will be shot on the opposite coast in Los Angeles, with only a small amount of location work being done in Manhattan.
I am sure that there are lots of factors that contributed to this decision, though most of them probably fall under the heading of “Economic”. Presumably most of the cast live in LA and its environs, so by basing the production there, Marvel is saving themselves a ton in housing expenses for putting up these folks in posh, mid-town accommodations for several weeks. LAalso has much more available studio space than Manhattan, so it would be presumably cheaper to rent. And while California’s 25% production tax credit is a little less than New York’s 30%, it is easier to qualify for than New York’s.
Will this move hurt the end product? It’s too early to tell. I know as someone who visits New York City alot, I tend to notice when a film or television show is shot in another city doubling for NYC and at times it can be a bit distracting. (Heroes, I’m looking at you.) New York City has a look and feel that is nearly impossible to duplicate in another location and that’s why filmmakers use the city as a backlot all the time, to gain that needed verisimilitude. In the superhero film genre, Sam Raimi knew that Spider-Man was very much a story about New Yorkers and shot a majority of his trilogy there.
The Avengers begins production in February.