Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's north coast backdrop for Sir Ken's Disney film aimed at rivalling Harry Potter success

By Mark Bain

The north coast is to welcome another multi-million pound film production in June.

Scenes are to be shot around Portrush as Belfast-born actor and director Sir Kenneth Branagh produces his adaptation of Irish children's author Eoin Colfer's hugely popular Artemis Fowl series of books.

The area has become a firm favourite with Hollywood producers, having played host to Star Wars and Game Of Thrones in the past couple of years, and now Disney Studios is heading this way.

Filming of the movie - which will follow the fantasy adventures of a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who kidnaps a fairy for ransom - is expected to take place over four days from June 12-15.

Members of the star-studded cast are expected to work on scenes near Whiterocks beach, along the coastline between the Royal Court Hotel and Dunluce Castle, and at Magheracross viewing point. Road closures are expected to be in operation.

Dame Judi Dench is among the stars lined up to appear in the film, which Disney is hoping can challenge the Harry Potter series of movies for box office appeal when it is released in 2019.

She plays the role of Commander Root, the leader of the fairy police force.

Ferdia Shaw saw off 1,200 candidates for the part of Artemis Fowl, the boy genius who finds himself in a battle of strength and cunning against a powerful, hidden race of fairies who may be behind his father's disappearance.

Josh Gad, who voiced Olaf in Frozen, will appear as Mulch Diggums, a kleptomaniacal dwarf who works for the fairies, while Lara McDonnell is lined up as Captain Holly Short and Nonso Anozie as Butler.

Branagh already has a successful track record with Disney, having directed 2015's live action version of Cinderella.

Most recently he directed and starred in the version of Murder On The Orient Express with Dench and Johnny Depp among the cast members.

Causeway Coast and Glens Ulster Unionist councillor Norman Hillis welcomed the news that another major production was set to showcase the north coast to a wider audience.

"This is really exciting news that part of this new Disney production will be filmed at the White Rocks and Dunluce Castle area of Portrush.

"I believe that this film has the potential to equal the worldwide interest generated by the hugely popular Game Of Thrones series.

"We have seen the many economic benefits from the HBO series with regular conducted tours of the film sites around the Causeway Coast and other parts of Northern Ireland.

"This is another chance to show off our beautiful area."

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