Craig: Unhappy Turks
April 19: While much of Istanbul is beaming with pride that it was chosen as a location for Skyfall, the next movie in the James Bond series, some merchants in the Old City seem to be shaken, not stirred.
The municipal authorities have closed off the plaza around the Yeni Cami and the Egyptian Spice Bazaar in the Eminonu neighbourhood for an estimated three weeks of filming to create what are expected to be the requisite chase scenes and explosions for the opening scenes of the 23rd Bond film. Shooting — of the cinematic kind — is set to run till May 6.
Despite the bright spots of work for some local actors and a dose of civic pride, some shop owners in the area, normally swarmed by tourists, are grumbling about having to close down for the interim.
Mete Boybeyi, who owns a jewellery store in the Grand Bazaar, complained to the daily newspaper Hurriyet about damage when motorcycles missed a turn and crashed into the 400-year-old wooden building.
His shop, Boybeyi, is said to have provided jewellery to the Ottoman court in past eras and more recently, to the hit television series Magnificent Century.
‘‘It is very nice for the Grand Bazaar to be chosen as a location for shooting this kind of movie. But the bazaar’s administration,’’ he told Reuters, ‘‘didn’t notify us the shooting would be like this.’’ Now he faces a loss of income and piles of paperwork to restore his place of business.
‘‘No one from the movie crew came to ask ‘what are your losses?’’’ Boybeyi said. ‘‘We filed a complaint at the police station.’’ Other residents of Istanbul are expressing fears on Facebook about road closures for weeks on end in a city already famed for its gridlock.
Kathy Hamilton, an American who operates guided shopping tours of the bazaar said that with the heavy tourist season just beginning, ‘‘and since most tourists have limited time here, filming has the potential to disrupt their plans. Traffic is bad enough in that area, and even a single street closing can throw the area into further gridlock’.’
After a hard winter, she said, merchants ‘‘don’t need disruptions now’.’
There is a silver lining in the form of short gigs for an estimated 500 extras and 100 stunt people, and the film production company has said it would pay the owners of shops on closed streets 750 lire, or $420, a day to compensate for lost business. ‘‘But, that is nothing,’’ Hamilton said, adding, ‘‘Hopefully crew members are buying.’’
Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond and Judi Dench as his boss, M, is the third Bond film to have scenes from Istanbul.