After seven years of crippling economic crisis, you would not blame Spain for trying to save a few euros here and there, which is what it did recently by inviting Hollywood heart throb Hugh Jackman to Madrid over the weekend – in virtual form.
There was no first class plane ticket, no five-star hotel and no extravagant rider. Instead, the Australian actor was beamed live to Spain’s capital from Berlin as a hologram, to discuss his new film Chappie, with the film’s director Neill Blomkamp.
Sony pictures Spain revealed it was the first time ever a 'holographic press conference' had taken place, something which could surely revolutionize film publicity in these belt-tightening films for the Spanish film industry.
The stunt was a "stomping success", according to US entertainment magazine, Variety, who described how the Aussie actor and South African director "came over loud and clear".
"Chappie is a film of action, of relations, but also highly technological. So we wanted to do something which was innovative and nonconventional, the first holographic press conference in the history of cinema," said Ivan Losada, director general of Sony Pictures Releasing de España.
Chappie tells the story of an experimental robot who is taught to learn and feel by its inventor (Dev Patel). Jackman plays Vincent, "a corrupt policeman, piloting his own destructive monster-droid and hell bent on destroying Chappie", according to Variety.
Could the popularity of holograms mean Hollywood stars will no longer have to travel the world on months-long press junkets?
Jackman hopes not: "I’m a little worried that studios will say 'This is so much easier than having Hollywood divas travelling around'. As a kid I used to have a map of the world next to my bed. Not rock stars. As cool as holograms are, I really don’t want to stop travelling."
But the new technology could come as a blessing for the Spanish film industry, which has suffered crippling losses since the beginning of the crisis, meaning many Hollywood stars now skip the country when publicizing their films abroad.
The economic crisis has had a crippling effect on Spain’s film industry – in 2013 box-office takings were recorded at their lowest ever, setting a grim record for Spain.
"We are in a state of panic," Pedro Pérez, the president of the Spanish film producers association (FAPAE) told newspaper, El País, at the time.
Spanish cinema goers have also been turned off by rising ticket prices, which have nearly doubled in price in the last decade in part because of the rise in VAT from 8 percent to 21 percent.
But with the introduction of holograms, maybe Hollywood’s finest will grace Spanish press conferences once more, just this time from the comfort of their own homes.