In 2006, a small island off the coast of Mainland China became the top-grossing casino destination in the world, even topping Las Vegas with a gross gaming revenue of over US$7 billion. It is home to 38 casinos, including some of the most famous gambling venues in the world, such as the Grand Lisboa Casino, the MGM grand, Wynn Macau, and the world’s largest casino, the Venetian Macau.
Although this Chinese special administrative region has only been at the top of the international casino charts for the past decade or so, its gambling history goes back some 7 000 years. Macau is also one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations, its beautiful beaches and ancient architecture attracting over 30 million visitors each year.
Among the people who Macau attracts in droves are film crews. For filmmakers, this kind of setting is a dream come true, which is why over 70 major movies have been shot in Macau since 1923. So, for those of us who’re unlikely to ever afford a trip to Macau as well as those who’d like to reminisce about their island memories, here’s our list of the top blockbuster movies filmed in Macau:
Directed by Hollywood big shot, Sam Mendes, Skyfall is one of the most famous movies to be filmed in Macau. Skyfall is one of two Bond films shot in this location. It was released in 2012 and stars Daniel Craig in his third appearance as 007, Judy Dench as the unconquerable M, and Javier Bardem as the villainous Raoul Silva. It is undoubtedly Macau’s greatest box-office success, with US$1.1 billion in gross revenue and three BAFTA nominations to its credit.
Although many Bond fans logically assume that Skyfall’s casino scenes were filmed in Macau, they were actually shot at Pinewood Studios in Britain. It is in the beach scene in which Bond confronts his nemesis for the first time that you can catch glimpses of the island.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The other Bond film shot in Macau was released nearly four decades earlier and stars the iconic Roger Moore as 007 opposite Christopher Lee. One of the most legendary of the Bond films, this Guy Hamilton classic is officially set in Hong Kong and Thailand but the casino scenes at the Baccarat tables and beyond were filmed in Macau because the former two countries offered little in the way of impressive gambling venues at the time.
Now You See Me 2 (2016)
Now You See Me 2 is the much-anticipated sequel to box-office smash hit, Now You See Me and features Mark Raffalo, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, Dave Franco, and Jesse Eisenberg. It grossed US$334 million and more than met the high expectations of expectant fans.
As a film about magicians and casino tricksters, Now You See Me 2 is perfect for the Macanese setting. In the film, the island is where the Four Horsemen choose to re-emerge after going underground for some time and scenes were shot at various Macau casinos and the Macau Science Centre.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Another film that turned to Macau for its picturesque island vistas rather than its casino attractions was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, back in 1984. Although the film is officially set in Shanghai, where Jones must rescue missing children from an evil cult, much of it was actually filmed in Macau. Look out for the car chase and the scene in which Jones attempts to cut a deal with the cult leader at (the rather cleverly named) Club Obi Wan.