IT HAS been the Hollywood hit of the festive season – a fantasy adventure charting the tale of young Indian boy adrift on a lifeboat with a ravenous tiger for company.
Until now, movie buffs have been concerned only with predicting whether Life of Pi will overtake The Hobbit at the top of the box office charts.
But film fans in Aberdeenshire have been left to solve a more puzzling conundrum: why a picture of fishing boat, which foundered on their coastline seven years ago, features in a poster for a film about the shipwreck of a Japanese freighter in the Indian Ocean.
A dramatic photograph of the wreck of the Sovereign, now a rusting eyesore on the shoreline near the village of Cairnbulg, has been used by California-based design company The Refinery in a striking poster as part of the publicity drive for the film.
David Gammack, secretary of the local Invercairn Community Council, said the surprise use of the wreck of the Sovereign could prove a blessing in disguise – both in bringing public attention to the continuing presence of the wreck on the foreshore and in attracting movie fans to the area.
Mr Gammack, who has been leading calls for the wreck to be removed since the accident in December 2005, said: “Until this morning, I knew nothing about this, but now that I have seen the poster it does look suspiciously like the wreck of the Sovereign before the bridge of the fishing boat was removed. It’s all very curious.
“If nothing else, it will focus attention on the wreck. As a community council, we have been trying to get the wreck removed over the years, but the coastguard agency can do nothing because it is not a danger to shipping and it is not an environmental hazard.
“And the insurers won’t have anything to do with removing the wreck. The wreck just sits there and it’s an eyesore.”
Mr Gammack added: “The boat hadn’t moved since it foundered but in the storm, just before Christmas, a big wave picked it up and moved it 50 metres further inshore. And now we believe it could be a danger to local children because, at low tide, it will be much easier to access than it was before.”
He said he had already heard some locals suggesting the wreck could become a visitor attraction for film fans. However, he added: “I doubt if people would come up here just to see the wreck of a ship. We would take any visitors we could get – but we would rather see the wreck removed.
“It does rather spoil the view. It is beginning to deteriorate and will start to break apart.”
Fraserburgh councillor Brian Topping claimed the use of the wreck on the poster could potentially allow Cairnbulg to reap the same benefits as nearby Pennan is still enjoying from movie fans who visit the coastal hamlet to see the red telephone box that became an iconic feature of cult classic Local Hero.
He said: “It could be quite an attraction for folk who want to take photographs of the wreck.
“And, while the presence of the wreck might be bad news for local folk, there could be some benefit to the local community.
“Movie fans still go all the way to Pennan to see the little red telephone box. And, potentially, any spin-off with visitors coming to Inverallochy and Cairnbulg and the rest of Buchan could be huge.
“I would hope that, if the film is the success it appears it’s going to be, that there could be a real spin-off that could benefit the local community.”
No-one was available to comment yesterday at The Refinery’s headquarters on its use of the photograph of the wrecked trawler.
The Banff-registered Sovereign had been returning to port after being chartered as a guard ship for a pipeline in the North Sea when it ran aground in a storm on the reef close to the entrance to Cairnbulg harbour on 18 December, 2005.
All five crewmen on board were winched to safety.