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Ghost in the Shell piece on display in Wellington

In the lead-up to Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures’ Ghost in the Shell U.S. premiere in New York on 29 March, an iconic costume from the film has been unveiled at the Weta Cave on Wellington’s Miramar Peninsula, where it will remain on free public display.

The Red Robe Geisha was created by five-time Academy Award-winning concept design and practical effects studio Weta Workshop in conjunction with costume designers Kurt & Bart. The geta (shoes) were created by Meniscus, another Miramar-based company. The costume includes an intricate red robe with an illuminated collar framing an austere animatronic mask. The magnetic facial flaps swing open to reveal precise and highly-detailed mechanical inner-workings. All up, thirteen Robotic Geishas, including twenty-five full Geisha masks with wigs, were created for the film.

Weta Workshop co-founder and CEO, Richard Taylor says, “Of the thousands of concept designs and hundreds of props, costumes and set-pieces the crew created for Ghost in the Shell, this is my favourite. Director Rupert Sander’s vision was a science fiction future heavily influenced by the plug-in tech of the 1980s and the intricate automata of centuries past. The Geishas are a terrific example of this. A lot of creativity and engineering went into this object, so it’s tremendous that Wellingtonians and our many thousands of international visitors are now able to see the work up close.”

Costume designers Kurt & Bart (Dallas Buyers Club, The Hunger Games) were thrilled to work alongside Weta Workshop. Kurt & Bart created custom jewellery for the mask, as well as the robe, which was based on a traditional kimono with a contemporary twist.

Bart Mueller says, “Rupert wanted to create Geishas that looked fragile like porcelain so that, when they were shot, they would explode like a vase shattering. That vision was brought to life beautifully by the Workshop team.”

New Zealand Film Commission Chief Executive Dave Gibson says the set piece illustrates the talent of the New Zealand screen industry., “Having the Red Robe Geisha piece remain in New Zealand, is a fantastic way for the New Zealand public to get up close to the artistry and talent of the New Zealand screen industry – in particular, Weta Workshop.”

In Wellington, Ghost in the Shell was shot at Stone Street Studios, Avalon Studios and on location on Victoria Street, which doubled for a futuristic Hong Kong. It is the first time urban New Zealand has been showcased as a sci-fi setting.  Ghost in the Shell secured the 5% uplift under the New Zealand Government’s film incentive programme, the New Zealand Screen Production Grant. 

Based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga, Ghost in the Shell stars Scarlett Johansson as Major:  A human, saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to become a perfect soldier, devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it.   As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her, and stop them before they do it to others.