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On Location: 'Bourne Legacy' makes a stop in the Philippines

January 11, 2012 |  3:34 pm

The hit franchise known for trotting around the globe, from France and Italy to India and Morocco, is adding a new location to its roster: the Philippines.  Universal Pictures' “The Bourne Legacy,” the fourth movie based on the Robert Ludlum novels, will start filming in Manila, the country’s capital, this week.

Scheduled to be released in theaters Aug. 3, the latest installment in the spy series was written and is being directed by Tony Gilroy -- who penned the first three films -– and will be the first without Matt Damon playing the title role. Bourne is not a character in the new movie. Jeremy Renner, instead, will portray an agent in the same line of business as Bourne, with Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton co-starring.

The production, which has a budget of more than $100 million, will spend about 45 days in the Philippines. Scenes have already been shot in New York and Alberta, Canada, since filming began last September. 

Although a few smaller-budget independent movies, including John Sayles’ 2000 “Amigo,” have been made in the Southeast Asian country, the fourth “Bourne” will be the biggest Hollywood production to be shot there since the late 1970s and 1980s. Several classic war films, among them Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 “Apocalypse Now” and Oliver Stone’s 1986 “Platoon” and his 1989 “Born on the Fourth of July," used the Philippines as a stand-in for Vietnam.

Manila has a history of being used to portray other cities: It served as Jakarta in Peter Weir’s 1982 drama “The Year of Living Dangerously,” Bangkok in Jonathan Kaplan’s 1999 thriller “Brokedown Palace,” and Panama City in Showtime’s 2000 biopic “Noriega: God’s Favorite.” 

“Legacy,” however, will be the first notable Hollywood movie to represent the capital as itself. Action scenes including a helicopter hovering above the financial district and a long car chase through a major thoroughfare are to be shot in the city, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. The production will also film in Palawan, an island province known for its pristine beaches and tropical rain forests.

Universal declined to comment on the project, but officials in the Philippines are hoping "Bourne" will play a vital role in elevating the country's profile in Hollywood. "This will generate great interest in our country since [it demonstrates] we can provide the facilities for such big productions,” the Film Development Council of the Philippines said in a statement.

Though there are no film incentives available in the Philippines, the Film Development Council touts its cheap transportation, accommodations and labor, as well as widespread fluency in English as factors that can make the country more attractive to Hollywood filmmakers. “It is also a melting pot culture where locations can be depicted as Asian, Hispanic or prewar American,” the council said.


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-- Dima Alzayat

Photo: Matt Damon and Dan Bradley on the set of "The Bourne Ultimatum." Credit: Abbot Genser/Universal Pictures.