Hollywood comes to Yorkshire with big-budget thriller

Colin Firth in The King's Speech
Colin Firth in The King's Speech
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Screen Yorkshire this week proudly announced that Hunter’s Prayer, a big international thriller about an assassin on the run with the girl he was hired to kill, is to be shot in the region this autumn.

There’s nothing new about feature films being shot in the Broad Acres. In fact, the county can lay claim to more than its fair share in a movie heritage dating back to the 1920s.

What’s impressive about Hunter’s Prayer – starring Sam Worthington and helmed by Terminator 3 director Jonathan Mostow – is that it has that gloss, that dash, that big-budget feel that marks out so many substantial studio pictures.

What’s more its makers were drawn to Yorkshire partly due to money being made available from the Yorkshire Content Fund, a £15 million pot earmarked to help boost local production by encouraging production companies to base themselves in the region.

This is big news for the county. Think back to Mel Gibson and Braveheart in the early 1990s.

He wanted to make his epic in Scotland but moved to Ireland when tax breaks made it more affordable. Scotland lost out.

Screen Yorkshire has been very canny over this new investment.

For years American filmmakers have dallied with the notion of setting up shop in the UK’s regions – in other words, anywhere outside of London.

Wales has benefited, as has Northern Ireland. And in recent years Yorkshire has picked up some significant projects not least The King’s Speech, though it must be said no-one could have foreseen quite how huge that would turn out to be.

Over the years I’ve been fascinated by the history and heritage of filmmaking in Yorkshire. I even wrote a book about it.

Over the years the array of films and talent – everyone from Bette Davis to Dustin Hoffman by way of Paul Newman and Lee Marvin – has hinted at the cream of Hollywood coming to Malham, Harrogate, York and Leeds.

And now there is Hunter’s Prayer.

Described as a fast-paced action movie it smacks of the pell-mell blend of car chases and violence that American cities such as Los Angeles have long embraced.

Think Lethal Weapon or Die Hard. Think stunts, destruction, helicopters, chaos, confusion and road closures. And I mean that positively.

America’s state capitals revel in their capability to attract blockbusters.

Philadelphia has built a reputation on it. Pennsylvania loves movies and moves heaven and earth to accommodate stars and crew. And the classic films – from Rocky to The Sixth Sense – are there for all to see.

Glasgow did it, too, doubling for Philadelphia in the apocalyptic zombie chiller World War Z.

The Brad Pitt starrer was said to have brought £2 million to the city, with hundreds of local people hired as extras.

That’s the way it is with big movies. Hunter’s Prayer will be a big movie.

It could be a game changer for Yorkshire, opening the floodgates for more big-budget movies to come. It will also be shot in Hungary but it’s Yorkshire everyone’s talking about.