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He will always be Black Panther to film fans in most places in the world, but in South Korea, Chadwick Boseman is better known as “Busan Panther.” Ever since the Marvel tentpole shot key action scenes in the port city, locals have affectionately identified him with their hometown.
Marvel, no doubt, shares the affection: The Busan setting boosted anticipation for Black Panther in South Korea, helping the film earn a massive $42.8 million there. “Busan was the perfect location for Black Panther,” director Ryan Coogler has said, adding that the city reminded him of his hometown of Oakland. Shot over two weeks, Panther’s South Korean car chase scene involved 150 cars and 700-plus people and featured Busan’s scenic Gwangalli Beach, Gwangandaegyo Bridge and other landmarks. “Busan is a place full of energy, where modern architecture and traditional buildings create great harmony against the backdrop of a beautiful beach,” Coogler noted.
The shoot is emblematic of an uptick in Hollywood productions on the Korean peninsula since 2014, when Avengers: Age of Ultron turned heads with a 16-day shoot that blocked off major boulevards and bridges in Seoul. Marvel and Disney benefited from a $2.3 million rebate via the Korean Film Council’s incentives program, plus a wave of media attention in the world’s fifth-largest theatrical market.
And South Korea’s biggest-ticket production client will be back. Marvel honcho Kevin Feige has told South Korean media that he plans for one of the studio’s tentpoles to descend on the country for another shoot in 2019.
A version of this story appears in The Hollywood Reporter’s May 11 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival.
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