With director Chen Yu-hsun’s (陳玉勳) latest work, Zone Pro Site (總舖師) raking in NT$160 million (US$5.3 million) so far at the box office, the street where most of the film was shot has experienced a surge in tourism and property sales.
Local residents said Jhongsiao Street (忠孝街) in Greater Tainan’s West Central District (中西) has been inundated with up to 2,000 tourists since the movie premiered on Aug. 16.
The film is a 145-minute comedy featuring bando (辦桌, setting up table), a Taiwanese traditional open-air banquet mostly held in wedding ceremonies or other major celebrations.
The film revolves around the daughter of a legendary bando master, Chan Hsiao-wan (詹小婉), who walks away from the family catering business to try to make a name in the modeling industry, but later returns home to pick up a kitchen knife and enter a national catering competition to get herself out of a huge debt she incurs through her boyfriend.
“There has been an influx of tourists after the release of the film,” said Chang Lin Hai-pao (張林海寶), 81, owner of a house on the street that is portrayed in the movie as the “Ai Feng Eatery” (愛鳳小吃店), which is run by Chan’s mother.
“Many try to get a glimpse of the inside of my house, so I often go outside and invite them in. At weekends, there are hordes of tourists inside and outside the building,” she said.
Chang Lin said some people have suggested she make money from the popularity of the movie by turning the house into a grocery store selling old-fashioned snacks to tourists, but she declined as she preferred spending her old age in peace.
“There were also people who wanted to rent the house for NT$20,000 a month, but I turned down their offers to save myself some trouble,” Chang Lin said.
Aside from bringing in tourists, the movie has also heated up the property market in the area, Chang Lin said, citing the recent sale of three properties on the street.
Among them is a house portrayed in the film as the “Wang Chi-tan’s Beef Soup Shop” (王啟旦牛肉湯), which was sold to one of the movie’s crewmembers, Wang Chen-yi (王振一), for several million NT dollars.
“I fell in love with the simple and unsophisticated atmosphere of the neighborhood when we went scouting for locations for the movie,” Wang said, adding that Tainan was an interesting but “primitive” city where historic monuments could be found around every corner and where “even an obscure alley could be full of surprises.”
“I am planning to convert the house into an izakaya [a Japanese-style drinking house] without a shop sign to maintain the original atmosphere of the local lifestyle,” Wang said.