Film office for Edinburgh, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders

Infinity and Beyond

24/09/18

The story so far: Vision and Wanda have been located, hiding out in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The Children of Thanos are coming. Send Captain America and Black Widow!

Avengers: Infinity War in Waverley Station, all rights c/o Disney

Edinburgh’s appearance in Avengers: Infinity War - one of the biggest movie franchises of all time - is an opportunity like no other. Infinity War shot to number one position in the league table of opening weekends and within weeks had earned over $2 billion USD worldwide at the box office. The largest cinema audiences were in the US which spent nearly $700 million at the box office; China, which made nearly $200 million (population size helps), followed by the UK which spent $41.5 million on seeing the film in the cinema. No doubt a large portion of this will have been the people of Edinburgh who went to see their city in the world’s biggest movie franchise.

Avengers: Infinity War has now moved beyond cinema into the realm of the home, conquering the ‘home video’ charts in its first week with a debut that more than doubled the sales of the rest of the top 50 combined.

What this equates to in terms of the number of people who have or will see the film, and Edinburgh in it, is hard to say given differing ticket prices and number of viewers per household, but given that 300 million people watched the first official trailer on YouTube, it is safe to say that Edinburgh’s appearance in the movie has been a promotional opportunity like of monumental proportions. VisitBritain research published in February 2018 found that 78% of visitors to the UK were influenced in their destination choice by film and TV. In fact, 90% of respondents in China, South Korea or India indicated that film or TV locations influenced their holiday destination choice. It is not only leisure visitors who are attracted by the movies: 40% of business visitors to the UK have visited a film or TV location while on business. This might be incentives and corporate events.

Bakehouse Close

Rosslyn Chapel before and after the Da Vinci Code

We have seen this impact in the Edinburgh city region already. The Da Vinci Code has been to bringing visitors to Rosslyn Chapel since the release of the book and film. The resulting visitor revenue has enabled the Trust to repair the structure, which had been under scaffold for many years, and build a visitor centre and car park. The Museum of Edinburgh now benefits from Outlander fans looking for Jamie’s workshop in Bakehouse Close then visiting the museum and stocking up on official Outlander merchandise. Edinburgh’s Destination Management Companies (DMCs) are increasingly called upon to create corporate events themed around Outlander, Trainspotting and Avengers. Most tour operators now include a film- or TV-themed trip. Historic Environment Scotland’s Jacobite and film-themed events at their castles and forts now attract upwards of 1500 visitors. Craigmillar Castle has seen visitor numbers leap up since its appearance in Outlander season 3, with a 22% increase in visitors in 2017/18 and further interest anticipated following the release of Outlaw King and Mary Queen of Scots.

How do we put a £ value on being part of the biggest movie franchise in history? Attempts to decode this have been made: VisitBritain conducted research this year into film and TV as a driver of tourism; VisitScotland’s visitor survey of 2015 included questions about film and TV as destination choice influences. Creative England commissioned research in 2015 into the value of film tourism at specific visitor attractions that have hosted hit dramas . In the light of so much large-scale production in Scotland in recent years (£95 million economic impact of film & TV production in Scotland in 2017) is it time for new research quantifying film & TV tourism in Scotland? Perhaps the results would place more value on attracting film and high-end television productions to Scotland.