Christchurch last night hosted the world premiere of The Changeover, a film adaptation of Margaret Mahy's award-winning novel.
The $5 million thriller, filmed in the city last year, tells the story of a troubled teenager who becomes a witch to save her brother from an ancient spirit.
Local newcomer Erana James, who played the film's lead Laura Chant, was at the event with other cast members, including British actor Nicholas Galitzine, who flew from London for the event, and veteran New Zealander actor Dame Kate Harcourt.
The film's other stars, Harry Potter actor Timothy Spall and New Zealanders Lucy Lawless and Melanie Lynsky, were unable to attend but recorded video messages which were played before the screening.
Co-director Miranda Harcourt described the premier at the Isaac Theatre Royal as a "really glamorous, classic red carpet event."
Ms Harcourt said although documentaries had been shot in Christchurch, The Changeover was the first major production for the city following the earthquakes.
"It really celebrates the environment as well as the city in its semi-broken state."
The high fences and road cones that had formed the backdrop to the movie locations were fast disappearing as new developments took over. "The city is changing at such a rate, so we're lucky that we managed to shoot the film when we did a year ago when we were still able to use parts of the red zone."
However she admitted the shoot had its challenges.
"It was a mission to shoot it in Christchurch and it had to be shot here because this is the birthplace of the story. Margaret Mahy wrote the story about Christchurch."
She said it was also an expensive place to shoot and lacked the infrastructure to support a large film crew, although that was changing now.
"So it was a big act of will and strength to get it off the ground but we're so thrilled with the outcome."
The film opens at 60 theatres nationwide on Thursday.