HAVANA, Cuba – First, fast cars invaded Havana's streets. Now, the Transformers are taking over.
Just weeks after scenes for a new Fast and Furious movie were filmed in the Cuban capital, the city on Saturday will welcome a team from Transformers 5 (officially titled The Last Knight), showing Hollywood's heightened interest in Havana's colorful charm following the US-Cuban thaw.
In a statement to AFP, the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) said it would be providing "new cinematographic services for the foreign production" of Transformers 5.
If the 12 days of filming in late April for Universal's Fast 8 – the latest in the Fast and Furious franchise – involved impressive logistics, to the evident annoyance of some Havana residents, the new project should be much quicker and less intrusive, the institute said.
Paramount Pictures will only be sending a "small team" to Cuba for a film shoot that should "not disturb the normal life" of Havanans.
The scenes to be filmed will be part of a sequence depicting the way robots – to be added later using computer effects – "adapt themselves to normal life" in several major cities around the world, according to the institute.
As part of the thaw in relations begun in late 2014 by President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, the US Treasury Department has eased a series of conditions imposed as part of the 1962 embargo of the island.
And since January, American movie producers have been given the right to film in Cuba.
Drawn by the colorful aesthetic of aging buildings in the Old Town along Havana's ocean front, American producers are flocking to the city as the hottest location for film shoots.
A team filming the cable comedy series House of Lies was the first to profit from the new regulations at the start of the year, even before the arrival of Hollywood's big-footed mastodons.
But one Hollywood production did manage to film in Cuba as early as 2014, the first to do so since the Castro-led revolution of 1959.
The team filming Papa, an independent biopic on the American writer Ernest Hemingway, was able to obtain a rare green light from the Treasury Department to film on the island from April to May 2014. – Rappler.com