The busted knee of a Hollywood heartthrob has dashed initial plans to film a live-action Netflix remake of a hit anime series in Auckland.
It was revealed last month the streaming giant would film Cowboy Bebop, starting John Cho and employing more than 400 people, in and around the city until December.
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Cho and his co-stars had been spotted around Auckland before Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) chief executive Nick Hill confirmed principal photography was planned in Auckland.
A source close to production told the Herald today Cho injured his knee on set in Auckland on October 5.
"The injury was a freak accident. It happened on the last take of a routine and well-rehearsed scene. It wasn't anyone's fault."
Production on the show would continue after a seven- to nine-month break while Cho recovered, the source said.
"We are committed to the show and to John. We're also committed to bringing back as much of the other cast and crew as possible.
"We'll know more about the new production schedule once John's prognosis is clear."
A Netflix spokesperson said the company's "thoughts are with John".
"He has our complete support as he recuperates from this injury."
The 10-episode first season of Cowboy Bebop, a live-action version of the cult Japanese animated science fiction series of the same name, employed 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.
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 travelled 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, had also been seen around Auckland and had 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.
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 in Auckland was a huge vote of confidence in the quality of the city's screen industry, Hill said last month.
"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 at that time 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 was an East Tamaki warehouse 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.
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.