Hollywood has come to Otago - again.

This time it won't double for Middle Earth, but for Montana in the US northwest.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst are among the actors shooting Jane Campion's latest film, The Power of the Dog, in the isolated Maniototo region, about 90 minutes drive northwest of Dunedin.

Teams were busy on Thursday, constructing a large building in an otherwise uncluttered landscape.

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It is believed the stars will be based in Queenstown. That's a couple of hours to the west, so chopper shuttles could well be in order. There's a small airfield in Ranfurly, one of the few settlements in the area.

A large encampment to cater for the film crew — said to number about 200 — is in place in Maniatoto, and a Ranfurly local said the town's old hospital was being used.

Crew vehicles line up on a large film set at Hills Creek in the Maniototo yesterday. Photo / Gerard O'Brien, Otago Daily Times
Crew vehicles line up on a large film set at Hills Creek in the Maniototo yesterday. Photo / Gerard O'Brien, Otago Daily Times

The film is based on Thomas Savage's 1967 book about two wealthy brothers who own the biggest ranch in Montana.

According to IMDb, Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, Sherlock) plays the brilliant and cruel Phil Burbank. Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) is his gentle sibling George.

When George marries a widow, Rose, played by real-life wife Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man, The Beguiled), his brother sets out to destroy her.

Savage's book is described by its publishers as "a powerfully tense tale of domestic tyranny set against the wild open spaces of the American West ..."

The book is set in the early 20th century, and a vintage car seen near the set yesterday indicates the film is likely to also be set in that period.

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Carpenters work on the set. Photo / Gerard O'Brien, Otago Daily Times
Carpenters work on the set. Photo / Gerard O'Brien, Otago Daily Times

A spokeswoman for the Central Otago District Council, which granted resource consent for the filming, said that due to the "sensitive nature" of the information provided in the consent application "and the potential for widespread public knowledge to disrupt filming activity, the applicant has requested suppression of application details until completion of filming activity".

The film is being made by Netflix for release next year.

Otago is popular with Hollywood. As well as being used extensively for the Lord of the Rings saga, it doubled as Kashmir in Mission: Impossible - Fallout.