Bid to promote city as filming location

PUBLISHED: 10:52 13 September 2007 | UPDATED: 12:46 04 May 2010

Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johannsson play sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl.

Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johannsson play sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl.

STARSTRUCK visitors hoping to walk in the footsteps of Hollywood stars Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett will have plenty of attractions on offer as tourism bosses look to capitalise on Ely s success as a film location. To tie in with the release of Eli

STARSTRUCK visitors hoping to walk in the footsteps of Hollywood stars Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett will have plenty of attractions on offer as tourism bosses look to capitalise on Ely's success as a film location.

To tie in with the release of Elizabeth: The Golden Age on November 2, a new exhibition in Ely Cathedral will show stills from the Golden Age and chart filming in and around the building. The cathedral is in negotiations with the film distributor Universal over picture rights and hope to include stills from The Other Boleyn Girl when the film is released in February 2008.

Lesley Ann Thompson, marketing manager at Ely Cathedral said: "Some people will come to Ely because they've just got off the plane from America and are following the Golden Age trail. People visit cathedrals for all sorts of reasons: architectural, historic and spiritual, too. We want to meet everyone's expectations and this is not part of the despiritualisation of the cathedral."

Tracey Harding, tourism team leader for East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "American visitors in particular love to eat where the stars ate, and walk where they once walked, so we're working closely with the cathedral to produce the exhibition, aimed at an international market. We're anticipating that the surge in interest in Ely won't last forever so it's important that we capitalise on that interest when the films are released. And the city has literally been put on the map."

If these ventures are a success, money as well as tourists could come flooding through the cathedral doors. Lincoln Cathedral, where some of the Da Vinci Code action took place, had a 26 per cent increase in visitor numbers after filming, and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, which became Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter films, has seen a 120 per cent rise in visitors since the film was released.

Mrs Thompson says advice was sought from both Lincoln and Gloucester cathedrals when considering the exhibition.

It's not just film devotees that the council are hoping to welcome back but film crews, too. "We've been privileged to have two sets of production companies come to Ely now," said Tracey.

"Word spreads in the directing and producing industry and the film company have made it known how easy we were to work with. Hopefully that means we'll see more productions coming to Ely in future."

And for those who want to beat hot-footed tourists to it, Arts and Development in East Cambridgeshire (ADeC) is banking on the success of The Golden Age by holding a champagne-filled regional charity premiere on 28 October in advance of the films scheduled general release on November 2.

Tickets go on sale on September 17 from Babylon Gallery on Waterside, priced at £28. Councillor Michael Allan, who played a cardinal in the film will join other extras on the red carpet, all staff will be dressed up as Elizabethans and there is even talk of providing a hog roast.

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