US television pilot, Game of Thrones, to be filmed in Belfast
A US television pilot is to be filmed in Belfast this autumn, it was announced today.
Fantasy epic A Game of Thrones will be produced by cable network HBO in the city.
A set at the Paint Hall in the docklands will be used and there are hopes the entire series could be filmed there, a boost for the local economy.
Northern Ireland Screen chief executive Richard Williams said: "HBO has been responsible for some of the most dynamic and successful TV series ever broadcast and we are absolutely delighted to welcome the HBO team here, we are really looking forward to working with them on such an exciting project.
"This is a real coup for Northern Ireland and further cements our reputation as a leading centre for film and television production, as we continue our rapid growth into what is one of the most powerful and vibrant industries in the world."
Recently, Universal Pictures announced it was filming Hollywood blockbuster Your Highness at the same site in the city's Titanic Quarter.
Game of Thrones is a medieval fantasy television series based on author George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.
The novels feature battles for the Iron Throne and struggles with supernatural ice creatures.
HBO programmes have broadcasted in more than 150 countries, including Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Band of Brothers and The Sopranos.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said: "This is the first time that a TV production of such vast size and scale has been filmed in Northern Ireland."
The announcement follows the visit by Mr Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to Los Angeles in March. An undisclosed amount of production finance was offered by the government.
"It will be a welcome boost to the production sector, helping develop the industry here and bringing employment and investment to Northern Ireland," Mr Robinson added.
Mr McGuinness said it was a further boost for the sector despite the difficult economic climate.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster added it would profile Northern Ireland's reputation as Europe's premier film and television production location.
Culture and Arts Minister Gregory Campbell said: "Success in attracting TV productions such as A Game of Thrones is vitally important in developing our local creative industries and artistic productions."
The pilot could be worth up to £10 million, film sources said. Jobs will be created with extras, construction workers, caterers and electricians.
It will take around 10 weeks to prepare and shoot.
Up to 600 jobs could be created if the entire series was shot there, with years' worth of production.
Mr McGuinness said: "At a time of economic downturn we have sought to bring a new and diverse range of investments here to create jobs and build experience."