Can Tom Cruise rent Tokyo?

Answers to your questions about the news.
June 21 2006 5:41 PM

Can Tom Cruise Rent Tokyo?

Sure, if he fills out the right forms.

Download the MP3 audio version of this story here, or sign up for The Explainer's free daily podcast on iTunes.

Tom Cruise told a group of reporters in Japan on Tuesday that, for his next movie, "I'd like to shoot in Tokyo, if I could have downtown for a week. … People might not be very happy with the traffic and let us have it for a week, [but] we'd have a sequence you'd forever remember." How would he get permission for something like that?

By filling out the right paperwork. Foreigners who want to shoot in Tokyo can enlist the help of a support office known as the "Tokyo Location Box." The Web site of the Location Box tells producers they'll need to submit an application—in Japanese—for permission to use public locations. They also have to negotiate the cost of shutting down traffic, if necessary.

Daniel Engber Daniel Engber

Daniel Engber is a columnist for Slate


In America, basic filming permits tend to come very cheap. Most cities want to make themselves as attractive as possible to the big moviemakers, since a single production might shell out millions of dollars for local actors, artisans, caterers, and materials. Some cities—like New York—hand out the permits for free. Chicago sells permits for just $25 per day, and San Francisco gets $300. In 2000, Charleston, S.C., asked the makers of The Patriot for $200 a day, plus $2,500 for the upkeep of their new statue of George Washington. Milwaukee charges for barricades and other equipment, and requires a $500 deposit for trees, grass, and plantings.

Local governments collect more money when they have to lend out city personnel—like police officers, firemen, and traffic agents. You'll need police on hand if you want actors to use fake weapons or dress up like cops; fire officials may be on call if the shoot involves pyrotechnics. If you want to shut down city streets, you'll be on the hook for any costs associated with rerouting traffic. (Production companies also have to buy insurance for the shoot; most places require at least $1 million in coverage.)

The film office in New York City provides police officers from the NYPD's Movie/TV Unit at no charge, but the traffic costs can mount up for ambitious projects. To shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, for example, a production company might need to hire several dozen traffic agents at $30 an hour each.

Producers also need to work out arrangements with the residents and storekeepers who might be affected by the shoot. (Some cities require signed permission from a majority of the people involved.) In many cases, a movie will pay out daily rates to cover the inconvenience of lost parking spaces or lost revenues. These rates could be $500 a day for residents, or significantly more for restaurants and stores.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks Kara Alaimo of the New York Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting, Alex Cohn of Charged, producer Dia Sokol, and Kayla Thames-Berge of the Location Managers Guild of America.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Dear Prudence
Oct. 21 2014 9:18 AM Oh, Boy Prudie counsels a letter writer whose sister dresses her 4-year-old son in pink tutus.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 21 2014 8:38 AM An Implanted Wearable Gadget Isn’t as Crazy as You’d Think Products like New Deal Design’s UnderSkin may be the future.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.