While filming on location is something that many movies try and do, sometimes it's simply not possible. This means that they need to create a set that is going to look as much like the real thing as they can. What Doctor Strange did to create Hong Kong on a sound stage is incredible. Marvel has given us exclusive access to a clip from the special features that will be part of the forthcoming Doctor Strange Blu-Ray release and it shows that the crew didn't simply create a facade of a Hong Kong street, but essentially a functioning marketplace. Check it out.
According to the exclusive clip, the set is 600 feet long and is made up of 60-70 fabricated buildings. That's simply crazy. Production Designer Charles Wood specifically says that he wanted to "wow" Benedict Cumberbatch with the set, and when we hear the actor talk about the Hong Kong set, it's clear that Wood succeeded. According to Cumberbatch, the set wasn't simply the external structure of all the buildings, but much of it had also been outfitted with the working machinery that you would find in similar shops. That's the sort of attention to detail that, while it is rarely noticed by an audience, it does an important job of building the illusion.
When Doctor Strange first started filming they did go on location to Nepal. However, since the set in Hong Kong was going to require significantly more control in order to get it do what they wanted, they clearly needed to build the set themselves. You can see the amount of green screen material that was part of the set, allowing them to manipulate things in post production. Doing that on location simply wouldn't have possible.
Just because the set was constructed doesn't mean that getting the details right wasn't important. marvel Studios did sent people to Hong Kong to take pictures and get an understanding of the area so they could recreate it accurately at Pinewood Studios in London.
The green screens on set were the things that allowed for the creation of the digital effects that made Doctor Strange a unique film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film's visual style was unlike anything that we had seen within the world before. Reality itself was bent on a massive scale. We can now see here that part of the reason the movie was able to do that was because they built massive sets that they could manipulate.
Doctor Strange will be available on Digital HD February 14 and on Blu-Ray February 28.