Spider-Man movie filmed Atlanta as New York
Superhero movie Spider-Man: Homecoming filmed from a base at Pinewood Atlanta Studios and also shot parts of Atlanta as New York.
Directed by Jon Watts, the film stars British actor Tom Holland as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and pitches him against Michael Keaton’s embittered arms dealer the Vulture.
“The biggest challenge was finding period-appropriate architecture [in Atlanta],” says Mike Fantasia, the film’s supervising location manager, in comments to KFTV.
“I read recently that only about 15% of the buildings that existed in Atlanta in 1920 are still standing, and many old buildings were demolished in Midtown for new office buildings, apartments and condos and more were demolished to make room for venues and housing for the 1996 Olympic Games.
“Fortunately, Jon Watts wanted to ground this movie in Queens [in New York], so we didn’t have to try to cheat Manhattan in Atlanta. Queens is primarily lower buildings – one to ten storeys – and we found a couple of blocks near downtown Atlanta where gentrification hadn’t begun and we were able to film there for a couple of weeks.
“With the addition of background [visual effects] plates, nobody will ever be able to tell we shot the scenes in Atlanta.”
Fantasia found a former printing warehouse in Atlanta that was used to build Vulture’s villain lair, and the space was also used for several of the film’s action set pieces.
“The building offered our fantastic set-decorating team lead by Gene Serdena and Grant Samson a great interior to build out the place where Michael Keaton’s character did his tinkering,” says Fantasia.
“The various heights and shapes of the rooftops of the complex were great for drone shots and we used the streets around the building for the end of a chase sequence. All in all, we got our money’s worth out of the locations over about six weeks of occupancy.”
Sets built at Pinewood Atlanta Studios included giant sections of the Staten Island Ferry in New York City for a key action sequence where the ferry is split in half as Spider-Man fights the Vulture. The separate sections were mounted on gimbals that had to have their hydraulic footings strengthened with additional concrete to cope with the scale of the operation.
Using Atlanta as the main filming location for Spider-Man: Homecoming was a departure for the franchise, with previous movie The Amazing Spider-Man 2 having been the biggest ever feature to shoot entirely in New York.
Spider-Man: Homecoming marks a new partnership between Marvel and Sony Pictures – Sony owns the Spider-Man character rights – and Marvel has used Atlanta as a production base for the past few years, including for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
In the end the Homecoming team spent just two weeks on location in New York City filming a selection of the city’s iconic visuals with a focus on the eastern borough of Queens, Peter Parker’s home in the sprawling east coast metropolis.
“Filming in New York is always fun, challenging and exciting,” says Fantasia. “There’s nothing like it. Dealing with the film permitting process isn’t necessarily difficult, but there are many, many layers to wade through for permissions.
“The biggest challenges are finding places to park all our equipment and moving between locations in the middle of the day. We filmed at 13 or 14 locations with two units in six days, so we moved a lot and there were always crowds waiting for us wherever went.
“I don’t think New York is necessarily too busy for a project of this size – it just takes a schedule, a good plan, a great crew and flexibility to make it work. And we did!”
Images: Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures