The rumours are true - Netflix's new series Cowboy Bebop, starring such talent as Hollywood heartthrob John Cho, is about to start filming in Auckland.
Cho and his co-stars had been spotted around Auckland over the past few weeks, sparking rumours the live-action remake of hit anime series Cowboy Bebop was being filmed and produced here.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) chief executive Nick Hill has now confirmed the series would begin principal photography in Auckland this month, and continue filming in and around the city until December.
The 10-episode first season of Cowboy Bebop, a live-action version of the cult Japanese animated science fiction series of the same name, would employ more than 400 people – the largest ever for a television production in Auckland.
It is the first Netflix original series to be filmed in New Zealand.
John Cho - known for his roles in the rebooted Star Trek film franchise, as well as Harold and Kumar - stars in Cowboy Bebop as Spike Spiegel, described by Deadline as "an impossibly cool 'cowboy' (bounty hunter) with a deadly smile, a wry wit and style to spare".
He travels through space with his ex-cop partner to hunt down the future's most dangerous bounties.
Actor and rapper Mustafa Shakir, known for Marvel's Luke Cage and who plays Jet Black in the reboot, has also been seen around Auckland lately and has been posting pictures to social media, including a stunning visit to Piha Beach.
The series also stars Daniella Pineda as amnesiac bounty hunter Faye Valentine and Alex Hassell as Vicious, the Syndicate's most notorious hitman and also Spike's archenemy.
Daniella Pineda has also been getting in on the Insta-action, posting some gorgeous holiday snaps from Whitianga.
A team of screen attraction and investment specialists at ATEED, in collaboration with the New Zealand Film Commission, helped bring the production to Auckland.
Cowboy Bebop is a co-production between Netflix and Tomorrow Studios (a partnership between Marty Adelstein and ITV Studios).
"A company of Netflix's global reputation choosing to film a major new series here is another huge vote of confidence in the quality of Auckland's screen industry," Hill said.
"This is a high-value production that will bring new jobs, direct spend and global kudos. The onus is now on all Aucklanders to help the production team have a great experience here – with true manaakitanga [hospitality]."
A Netflix spokesperson said they were excited to work with ATEED and Tomorrow Studios to produce their first Netflix original series in New Zealand with the "thriving Auckland screen industry community".
"With first-class production facilities and unique landscapes, Auckland is an ideal place to create great screen content."
Cowboy Bebop's production base is an East Tamaki warehouse which has been fitted out by Netflix to meet its studio needs under an initial two-year licence with ATEED, which had leased the site for screen production use for five years.
Cowboy Bebop is the latest boost to the region's billion-dollar screen production and post-production industry.
It June it was revealed a "huge" part of Amazon's Lord of the Rings series - set to be the most expensive TV show ever at $1.5 billion plus - would be produced in New Zealand.
A senior member of the Auckland film industry said at the time Kumeu Film Studios (KFS) and Auckland Film Studios (AFS) had been working on pre-production on the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) for more than a year, preparing and building studio locations. American crews were already in Auckland.
"Supporting a thriving Auckland creative industry and providing pathways for new generations of talent coming through is a priority for ATEED as we strive to become a globally respected screen hub alongside similar sized cities such as Albuquerque and Vancouver," Hill said.
Auckland's screen industry gross revenue was $2.43 billion in 2018, down from $2.66b in 2017, and out of a total of $3.3b for the country.