The Asia-Pacific’s best movie set locations

THE Asia-Pacific region is no stranger to the silver screen. Thanks to its bustling cities, futuristic architecture and incredible landscapes it’s served as the backdrop to major feature films such as The Lord of the Rings, Entrapment and Memoirs of a Geisha. While local films are also a burgeoning industry in many of these countries, here are some of the movie sets you might recognise from English language films.

Matamata, New Zealand

It’s hard to go past Peter Jackson’s two trilogies for movie locations in New Zealand. The Hobbit (the third instalment of which comes out later this year) and Lord of the Rings used the superb mountains, lakes, hills, vales, dales and rivers of both the north and south island. While it’s hard to pull out just one of these superb locations, probably the most famous set is Hobbiton in Matamata south of Auckland which has now been permanently established as a tourist attraction complete with real hobbit holes. Fans of the movies can have beef and ale pie at The Green Dragon Inn or head to the Shire Store for other products.

Matamata. Pic:

Silverton, Australia

You might well ask what or where, but Silverton is quite possibly Australia’s most famous movie town. Located near Broken Hill in New South Wales it’s wonderful colourful landscapes and beautiful old buildings have appeared in more than 140 commercials, as well as films such as Mission Impossible II, Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mad Max II and The Long Way Home. It’s appeared in commercials for Coca Cola, Panasonic, LandRover, Telstra, Gatorade and MasterCard. Indeed there are plenty relics from the films around with a Mad Max V8 parked outside the pub and plenty of memorabilia inside. Today the town is home to just 50 people including several artists running museums and galleries who are obviously inspired by the incredible surrounds.

The Mad Max V8 outside the Silverton Hotel. Pic: Joanne Lane,

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

The world famous Petronas Towers make for an excellent, futuristic style movie set backdrop. And in the final heist scenes in the movie Entrapment about the work of art thieves, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones, they take centre stage with shots of the 451m high twin skyscrapers from above and below, or of the pair dangling precariously from parts of them.

Entrapment movie poster featuring the Petronas Towers.

Kyoto, Japan

Beautiful, historic Kyoto is the mesmerising backdrop to Memoirs of a Geisha. One of the most beautiful scenes in the movie is when the young Sayuri runs through the Fushimiri-Imari gates after meeting The Chairman (see the scene at this link). Thousands of torrii lead to the inner shrine and are brilliant orange in colour and closely spaced so they are like being inside a tunnel. The gates are actually donated by individuals and companies and their details are inscribed on each gate.


Angkor Temples, Cambodia

Fancy a little Angelina Jolie with your ancient ruins? The dramatic Ta Prohm complex, half claimed by the jungle, is the scenic backdrop where Angelina and the team from the 2001 Lara Croft filmed a scene of her being sucked beneath the earth and fighting off a six-armed guardian statue. The scene is so well known locally its often called the Angelina Jolie Temple. Whether you’re a Jolie fan or not, atmospheric Ta Prohm should be on your Angkor itinerary. See the scene shot at Ta Prohm here.

A still from the Tomb Raider scene.