Tinseltown stars coming to town
NEXT stop: Singapore.
The year is proving to be a turning point, with Hollywood fixing its eyes on our tiny island and heading our way to promote blockbusters and shoot movies.
The increasingly high-wattage celebrity sightings have also caused quite a stir.
Star Trek star Zachary Quinto and Homeland actor Rupert Friend were recently spotted around Gardens by the Bay and Chinatown when their action flick, Agent 47, moved filming from Berlin to Singapore.
But brace yourself for even more, when the likes of Twilight actresses Kristen Stewart and Nikki Reed, as well as Jack The Giant Slayer heart-throb Nicholas Hoult, land in Singapore in the coming months.
Hot on the heels of Agent 47's shoot here, sci-fi drama Equals will reportedly fly Hoult and Stewart to Singapore for filming, tentatively slated for August.
Later this year, we will also see Reed on our shores when filming begins for the Kelvin Tong-directed horror movie Email.
In addition, Singapore has and will continue to play host to even bigger stars during their movie promotional tours.
In March, the main cast of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield and Jamie Foxx - swung by to meet the media and fans at a red-carpet event at Marina Bay Sands' skating rink.
They were also involved in Earth Hour-related activities, including a visit to Commonwealth Secondary School, where they talked to students on environmental sustainability, and switching off lights around the Marina Bay area to mark Earth Hour.
And even before fan boys and girls can catch their breath, several cast members of the upcoming X-Men: Days Of Future Past will land in Singapore for the South-east Asian premiere of the superhero blockbuster next week.
Hugh Jackman, Fan Bingbing and Peter Dinklage will do their rounds at Shaw House for the highly anticipated affair.
It's a big deal for our little red dot, considering that similar events have been few and far between over the past 20 years.
Irene Tay, marketing director for Sony Pictures (Singapore) which distributed The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in Singapore, said: "For me, the tour for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a huge success and I'm really happy with it. Hopefully, this will be the start of more to come."
For Tong, 40, the decision to shoot the Hollywood-produced, set-in-Singapore, Email was a no-brainer.
He told The Straits Times in February that he hopes to highlight the contrast between the old and new in Singapore, choosing quaint corners like Chinatown and Little India, as well as the Biopolis.
He said: "At the end of the day, I am a Singapore film-maker and one of my biggest wishes is to see Singapore become a cinematic setting for international pictures. So the first chance I got to work on a Hollywood-produced film, I was determined to set the story in my little corner of the world - Singapore.''
For 28-year-old Gillian Ang, co-founder of local pop culture website Geek Crusade, Hollywood's "belated discovery" of Singapore is timely.
"Maybe in the past, we were not seen as exotic enough or we failed to stand out. But this is really a good time to raise our profile and bring us more opportunities," she said.
"It's a step up and I hope more productions will consider Singapore as a destination. Then, maybe, we can hope in the future that the movies will showcase other selling points, like food and heartland culture, as well as highlight our home-grown stars.
"This is a big deal because we are now on Hollywood's radar. Hopefully, it raises awareness of our nation and lead to fewer Americans thinking we are part of China!"