The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Manchester becomes Manhattan for Hollywood drama ‘Genius’

Filming for 1920s-era film Genius, starring Colin Firth and Jude Law, begins in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and around Sackville Street


Several streets in the centre of Manchester have been transformed into replicas of early 20th century New York City as production on Hollywood film Genius gets underway this week.

Hidden areas around the Northern Quarter and Sackville Street were this weekend being prepped for action, with huge sets including contemporaneous storefronts and billboards being erected on street corners.

Harter Street has been completely made over, and areas of Princess Street have been reconfigured to replicate the back streets of 1920s Manhattan and Brooklyn.

It is thought that the pre-Georgian style architecture of Manchester’s city centre represents more accurately the buildings and style of the era than New York itself, where many old buildings have been knocked down and rebuilt.

One assumes that British director Michael Grandage, whose first major role as artistic director was at Sheffield Theatres in the late 90s, wanted to use everything that the north of England has to offer.

Filming in Manchester was wrapped up on the 20th October and the cast and crew have moved on to Liverpool and London, and will soon film in the USA, where some scenes will be shot in real-life New York.

The film stars Colin Firth as literary editor Max Perkins—on whose memoir the film’s script is based—and is the premier feature film for Grandage, lauded worldwide for directing on the stage.

Genius tells the tale of the boom in American literature at Scribner Publications in the early 1900s, and the all-star cast also comprises Jude Law and Guy Pearce, as authors Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald respectively, and the likes of Nicole Kidman and Dominic West in supporting roles.

The period drama is slated to be released in 2016, to wide critical acclaim. With a world-renowned theatre director and the likes of Colin Firth at the helm, expectations are high.