Tbilisi Welcomes Universal Picture’s Latest Fast & Furious as Filming Begins

On August 16th, Stamba Hotel hosted a press conference on the kick off of shooting of the world-famous Hollywood blockbuster Fast & Furious in Georgia.

The filming of the ninth chapter of Universal Pictures’ Fast & Furious began in Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi on August 19 and will last until September 20.

The shootings in Georgia are to be carried out by Georgian production company Enkeny Films.

A number of government agencies, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and Tbilisi City Hall, have been working closely with Universal Pictures, Enkeny Films and the film’s production team to organize filming of an action scene that features a car chase through some of the city’s iconic and best-known areas. As the main liaison for the Georgian government, the State agency Enterprise Georgia is responsible for coordinating communication and film making processes with these and other government stakeholders.

The decision to shoot in Georgia was made during a visit of officials from Hollywood film producing companies HBO and Universal Pictures in April.

The visit was initiated and organized by the agency Enterprise Georgia, a government institution focused on increasing the competitiveness of private sector, enhancing country’s export potential and promoting/supporting foreign direct investments in Georgia.

The press conference was led by Enterprise Georgia CEO Mikheil Khidureli, Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi Sophio Khuntsaria, Head of the State program ‘Film in Georgia’ Tatia Bidzinashvili and Founder of Enkeny Films Bacho Meburishvili.

During the press conference, Khidureli once again highlighted the importance of the filming of this global movie in Tbilisi for the country’s tourism development, its prestige and economy.

“We made a breakthrough and the first Hollywood movie will be shot in Georgia,” Khidureli said. “Enkeny Films started communication on this particular project a year ago, but our agency’s role was to bring and host high-ranking representatives from Hollywood to Georgia to get an official green light for the country itself.

“We offered them a flexible system, fast solutions and a comfortable cash rebate program. Our willingness to help and accelerate processes was crucial during the decision-making. This will be not only to the financial benefit of our country; it will be a most effective marketing activity for Georgia. Fast and Furious 9 is a movie in which the whole world will see Georgia and Tbilisi,” he noted.

Deputy Mayor Khuntsaria noted that the project itself is unprecedented not only for the development of the Georgian filming industry, but also for the country’s tourism sector.

“The project carries an unprecedented importance for the development of both the Georgian filming industry and the country’s tourism sector. Up to 400 representatives of the local filming industry are involved in the process. We hope that after the movie is released, thousands of tourists will visit Georgia and its capital Tbilisi, as statistics note usually happens in the locations where blockbusters are shot. We hope that afterwards, Georgia and Tbilisi will also catch the interest of other important filming industries,” she said.

Bacho Meburishvili, the Founder of Enkeny Films, agreed that the implementation of such projects will further encourage other film studios to come to Georgia and to recognize it as an ideal film location for large-scale projects.

“It is the first time such a big film studio has come to Georgia, and it was preceded by a very long process of convincing them of the suitability of the country for their needs. I’m sure such projects will also encourage other studios to come and work in Georgia. The main part of the action movie will be filmed in Georgia, on several streets of the capital which will be periodically blocked, including the central streets such as Rustaveli Avenue and Vazha-Pshavela. Attendance at the shootings will be restricted due to safety standards. We apologize to the population in advance for the inconvenience caused by the blockade of the streets and kindly ask them to be patient. Emergency services will still be able to freely move on these streets if necessity,” he said.

The five-week filming schedule will see a production crew of more than 600, including up to 425 Georgians, working in Tbilisi and Rustavi.

The project is expected to generate a tremendous economic impact for Georgia, making it the largest production to film in the country so far.

The agenda of shooting on the major avenues of Tbilisi is as follows:

August 18 – August 27: Vazha-Pshavela Avenue;

August 26 – September 3: Rustaveli Avenue;

September 2-7: area adjacent to the Rustavi Market;

September 6-7: Freedom Square and Pushkin Street;

September 8-16: Besarion Zhgenti and Avto Varazi Streets, 4th Nutsubidze Plateau

September 16: University Street.

A central shopping center in the Georgian town of Rustavi, located near the capital Tbilisi, will also be used as a film set.

Justin Lin, the movie’s director, said, “We are thrilled to film one of our biggest action sequences in Georgia with the support of many government agencies, especially Enterprise Georgia. The moment I saw Tbilisi’s unique mix of historical architecture and modern structures amidst these wonderful colors and textures, I knew we’d found our location. Tbilisi is the perfect backdrop for the ninth chapter in the Fast & Furious saga.”

The filming of the ninth chapter in the Fast & Furious saga is the first Hollywood film to participate in the State program Film in Georgia. The program offers a 20-25% cash rebate on qualified expenses incurred in Georgia and aims to support the development of Georgia’s film industry, attract international filmmakers to the country and position Georgia as the main Eastern European filming destination.

As of July 2019, the incentive has already attracted 28 productions. The accumulated spending of all of these productions has amounted to more than GEL 99,8 mln and more than 13 400 local jobs have been created.

By Ana Dumbadze

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