Da Vinci blockbuster could be a £60m masterpiece for Swansea Bay
HOLLYWOOD has come to Swansea Bay with the opening of Europe's biggest indoor film studios, which could bring a massive £60 million boost to the economy.
US screenwriter and film director David S Goyer, whose writing credits include blockbusters Batman Begins and Blade, is involved in filming at the former Visteon site in Fabian Way, Swansea, next month.
His new TV drama series, entitled Da Vinci's Demons, will be filmed at the studios over the coming months, along with other locations in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot, including at Margam Castle.
The first joint production from the premiere cable channel Starz Entertainment and BBC Worldwide Productions, it will tell the story about Leonardo da Vinci's life. It has already brought in 100 new jobs and could bring in even more. A source close to the project said it could be worth $100million (£61million) to the local economy.
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Swansea-born Ed Thomas, who set up the art department and designed Doctor Who and Torchwood, was instrumental in bringing the series to Swansea Bay, along with TV producer Julie Gardner, who was brought up in Glynneath.
Mr Thomas said: "When you think David Goyer has the new Batman film about to be released and the new Superman — it's a huge coup. Starz, the premier cable channel, has been scouring the world for a location for Da Vinci's Demons.
"I worked with Julie Gardner in Hollywood on Torchwood and when they said they were looking to film we brought them to South Wales — after a lot of negotiating.
"They (Starz) fell in love with the 265,000 square feet of stage space in the old Visteon plant."
He added: "It's a big series with huge ambition — with a bit of luck it will run for seasons.
"When you have David Goyer involved in the mix you will have a cult following — the production can only be beneficial for Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, financially and on all levels."
Da Vinci's Demons will star English actor Tom Riley, who has previously appeared in Monroe and Bouquet of Barbed Wire, as the young Da Vinci and Laura Haddock, from Upstairs Downstairs, will play Lucrezia Donati, the mistress of Lorenzo Medici and lover of Leonardo da Vinci.
The historical fantasy will follow the "untold" story of the artist and inventor.
Mr Thomas added: "We are going to be working at Margam Castle, where we are going to be creating our own Da Vinci palace.