Excitement is building in the Queenstown region as it prepares to play host to the filming of a major Hollywood blockbuster.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, featuring Australian-born star Hugh Jackman as the title character, follows on from the enormously successful X-Men film trilogy, which has grossed more than $1 billion at the box office worldwide.
The Twentieth Century Fox feature is being partially filmed at locations around Queenstown, the wider southern lakes area and Dunedin, and sets have been spotted springing up in recent days.
"It's huge. And it will definitely be something that puts Queenstown's scenery on the map on a global scale," said Film Queenstown manager Kevin Jennings.
The filming is veiled in secrecy, to prevent crucial parts of the plot being leaked to die-hard fans of the X-Men, brought to the silver screen from the popular Marvel comic.
An Australian publicist for the film would provide only basic details of the film when approached by the Herald, but it is believed the film shoot is imminent.
"I'm not at liberty to say when, but it's getting very close," Mr Jennings said.
About 250 people are being employed for the New Zealand leg of the shoot. The Herald understands it will take six to seven weeks.
Hotels, bars and restaurants in the Queenstown area had been filled up in recent weeks with overseas visitors involved in planning the shoot. Local businesses were expecting to do well from the visiting moviemakers, Mr Jennings said.
"They are all very accomplished people, and they spend money and they like good food and good drink."
Along with other features being shot in New Zealand this year, such as James Cameron's Avatar, the Wolverine feature showed the country was still very attractive to international moviemakers, said Film New Zealand chief executive Judith McCann.
New Zealand had shown with the Lord of the Rings trilogy that as well as great locations, it had the talent and ability to "deliver for large budget productions". A large budget grant offered to films spending more than $15 million, and the low exchange rate were also appealing, Ms McCann said.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, rumoured to cost in excess of $100m to make, is being directed by Gavin Hood, who directed Tsotsi - winner of the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Jackman joins the trio behind the X-Men trilogy in producing the Wolverine movie, along with Australian colleague John Palermo.
Other parts of the film are being made in Australia and New Orleans.
It is due for release in May next year.