Belfast Telegraph

Ken Branagh brings Artemis Fowl crew to Northern Ireland's north coast

By Ivan Little

Belfast-born actor Sir Kenneth Branagh has brought a new tourist attraction to the north coast as a new Disney blockbuster movie starts filming just outside Portrush.

A huge film crew has rolled into town for the shooting of the movie over the next few days on locations around White Rocks beach.

The film is an adaptation of the Artemis Fowl books which follow the fantasy adventures of a 12-year-old Irish criminal mastermind who kidnaps a fairy for ransom.

Early reports said the film was scheduled to have been produced by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, but he was ditched by Disney after becoming embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal.

Robert De Niro is listed by the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) as the movie's executive producer, with Branagh in the director's chair.

The cast includes Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench and Josh Gad, who provided the voice of Olaf in the popular Disney animated movie, Frozen.

Dame Judi, is playing Colonel Root, the leader of the fairy police force and Gad has been cast as a kleptomaniac dwarf.

West Belfast actor Conor MacNeill, who starred in the last series of the TV drama The Fall, is also listed on IMDB as having an as yet unspecified role in the film.

Scenes for Artemis Fowl are being shot along the coast between the Royal Court Hotel and the historic Dunluce Castle.

The lofty Magheracross viewing point is also being used for the shooting and the breath-taking A2 coastal road has been closed between the hotel and the castle.

A spokesman at Portrush Tourist Information office said a diversion would be in operation to enable visitors to access Dunluce Castle, which she said was staying open.

It's understood that many of the people involved in the filming are staying at the Royal Court.

And it's believed that staff there have all signed a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the movie.

A routine telephone inquiry to the hotel revealed that it was booked out over the coming days.

Security teams in hi-vis jackets have been patrolling the film locations in a bid to make sure prying eyes - and more importantly cameras - don't get a view of what's going on.

But a number of people have already posted pictures on social media.

"There are plenty of potential vantage points around here," said one man.

The Artemis Fowl books were written by 53-year-old Irish author Eoin Colfer from Wexford. The best-selling eight volume series of his books was published between 2001 and 2012 and sold more than 21 million copies worldwide.

The screenplay for the new film has been written by Michael Goldenberg, who was responsible for scripting the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

A release date for the Artemis Fowl movie has been pencilled in for early next year, but no title for it has been announced so far.

Before he was publicly shamed and charged over sex allegations, Harvey Weinstein had expressed a keen interest in making the movie.

He said at the time he'd been introduced to the Artemis Fowl books by Robert De Niro and film producer Jane Rosenthal.

"Within hours I told them I wanted the rights to the film," said Weinstein.

Local councillor Norman Hillis has welcomed Disney's decision to film in Northern Ireland.

He said the HBO cult series Game of Thrones, which has used a number of locations including the Dark Hedges for film locations, had been a major economic boost for the north coast.

He added: "The new movie will be another chance to show our beautiful area."

Filming is also taking place in London and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Sir Kenneth is said to be using many of the behind-the-scenes crew who worked with him on his widely acclaimed film Murder on the Orient Express.

Insiders are already predicting that the Artemis Fowl movie could rival the success of the Harry Potter films, which have grossed billions at the box office.

Sources in the Northern Irish film industry say that if the film does become a hit, it's hoped the province could be used as a regular location for follow-up movies.

Belfast Telegraph

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