Copyright 2003

[ August 11th 2003 ]

North Wales is preparing to welcome a deluge of movie-minded tourists all keen to follow in the footsteps of screen adventurer Lara Croft. The release on August 22 of Tomb Raider 2 is expected to trigger massive interest in Snowdonia, the location of a Chinese village in the film. Nearly a year after Angelina Jolie arrived on the shores of the lake Llyn Gwynant with 150 cast and crew members the area is about to receive international exposure and tourism agencies are at work behind the scenes to ensure that Wales receives recognition as the real star of the sequel.

Tomb Raider 2, Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life is billed as an action-packed quest in keeping with the style of the original video game. All the more reason for film buffs to seek out the locations where Lara is seen battling with her adversary Chen Lo, although identifying the landscape of Snowdonia, which has been transformed by computer-generated imaging, may be a challenge in itself. Nant Gwynant was the main Welsh location, with other sequences filmed at Pen y Pass, Moel Siabod, near Capel Curig, the Alexandra Slate Quarry near Carmel and Ffynnon Llugwy. More than 1m was pumped into the local economy during the six-week shoot but the long-term spin-offs are incalculable.

Tomb Raider 2 is certainly expected to prompt a flood of visitors to the Llyn Gwynant camp site, which accommodated many of the film crew and is situated in the heart of some of the most dramatic scenery in the film. The camp now has the potential to offer Tomb Raider-style adventure holidays.

Gwion ap Rhisiart, the international marketing manager for Sgr n Cymru and its locations arm, the Wales Screen Commission, says he is aware of efforts by local businesses to exploit the Tomb Raider theme. "Filming such large and high-profile productions as Tomb Raider 2 not only has a substantial impact on the Welsh economy but can have a beneficial effect on tourism as well," he said.

More than 60 businesses have already benefited from the production, including the Seiont Manor Hotel, Llanrug, where Jolie stayed, and the Ty'n y Coed Hotel in Capel Curig. The production brought some surprise benefits to the area, including 30 members of the Chinese community in Caernarfon who were drafted in as extras and a local farmer who was asked to supply chickens, a gaggle of geese and a mule.

After the film's release it will be listed on the website Reel To Rail, - Already featured is First Knight, the 1995 version of the tales of King Arthur starring Sean Connery and Richard Gere, which was filmed in Snowdonia and Blaenau Ffestiniog. According to the Wales Film Commission First Knight is estimated to have pumped 14m into the local economy. Reel To Rail, which is run by the Association of Train Operating Companies, is one of many innovative ideas to encourage visitors to enjoy local attractions, including the Ffestiniog narrow-gauge railway.

Actress Angelina Jolie says she has had her pick of men across the world - but only as co-stars. The stunning Lara Croft legend named a string of Hollywood's leading men she has worked with while filming her blockbuster movies including Kylie Minogue's French lover Olivier Martinez, who is reportedly at the centre of a love-triangle with the two beauties. Jolie, 28, has worked with Ewan McGregor, Jude Law and her ex-husband Jonny Lee Miller in the past. She said, "I've done a film, Talking Lives, with Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland is in it as well, and Olivier Martinez. "Yup, me and all the boys."

The pouting screen-siren, who has adopted her son, Maddox, from a Cambodian orphanage, says she has had a "great year" despite breaking up with and getting a divorce from Billy Bob Thornton.

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