The beginning of a blockbuster?
By Michael Duck Of The Morning Call / May 29, 2008
Explosions, blazing lights and even military helicopters will all be part of making a Hollywood movie about giant, shape-shifting robots — but, as the Bethlehem neighbors of the ”Transformers 2” movie set will find out next week, it might not involve much sleep.
The movie’s crew will be turning the former Bethlehem Steel site into a nighttime war zone from 4 p.m. Monday until 7 a.m. Tuesday, Mayor John Callahan said Wednesday. The filming will continue the following two nights during the same hours.
Notices were sent to neighbors and nearby business owners Tuesday warning them about the upcoming noise, glare and road closures that will come along with the filming of one of the movie’s opening scenes, which will feature the computer-generated robots alongside Steel’s instantly-recognizable blast furnaces.
”It is essentially going to be a simulated war,” Callahan said.
”Overall, it’s a great thing for the city,” he said, citing the economic impact from the roughly 200 crew members staying in hotels and buying supplies.
At the same time, city officials know the filming might be an inconvenience for anyone trying to sleep through director Michael Bay’s pyrotechnic displays. Callahan said officials want to make sure residents know what’s going on so they won’t call police with worries or complaints about the noise.
The movie, which follows up on Bay’s 2007 blockbuster ”Transformers,” focuses on extraterrestrial robots that disguise themselves as everything from cars to fighter jets. Both movies are based on the ”Transformers” toys and cartoon that rocketed to popularity in the 1980s.
The Bethlehem scene will be set in a fictional Chinese city. The movie’s crew has already recruited dozens of local residents of Asian descent to work as extras.
Members of the movie crew appeared to be building part of the set Wednesday at the western edge of the blast furnaces. Also on Wednesday, dozens of trucks carrying filming equipment rolled into a parking lot at the nearby Steel Ice Center.
”It’s pretty thrilling that they’re going to be right here,” said Nancy Hudson of Bethlehem, the ice rink’s receptionist, adding that she and her family are ”big fans of Optimus Prime” — the heroic Transformers leader who changes into a tractor-trailer.
”Right now, we’re all kind of looking out and wondering what’s going to happenÂ…and hoping that they have people watching their equipment,” Hudson said, alluding to the pricey lights and other filmmaking supplies.
In fact, security is tight on the movie set, the Bethlehem Steel site and even the ice rink’s parking lot. When a Morning Call reporter checked out the parking lot Wednesday afternoon, a security guard with a badge featuring the ”Transformers” logo politely asked him to move along.
The notice issued Tuesday to neighbors and nearby businesses mentions that the filming will include ”large-scale pyrotechnics,” fake guns and several military helicopters, Callahan said. He added the filming will also shut down nearby parts of Third and Polk streets from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
In addition, lights will be set up along the Lehigh Canal towpath to illuminate the blast furnaces from across the Lehigh River, Callahan said.
The Rev. Gordon Mowrer, a city councilman, lives nearby in Moravian Village on the north side of the river. He jokingly pledged to sit out in a lawn chair to take in the scene next week.
”I really am curious to see what it’s going to be like,” he said, adding that it might be a preview of the noise and lighting that Musikfest concerts will bring to the Steel site in a few years.
Asked where other curious onlookers might get a glimpse of the action, Callahan declined to offer any suggestions. ”We’re not necessarily encouraging people to come out,” he said, but he acknowledged that people are excited to see the filming and will probably find some good vantage points at a safe distance.
”It’s like the fireworks,” Callahan said. ”We don’t tell people where to go to watch the fireworks, but they seem to figure it out.”
a href=”http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3i3f3a21456cba6a51378e1ce061a0ab60″ rel=”external”>From THR:
David Berenbaum and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes have been brought on deck to bring Hasbro’s supernatural game “Ouija Board” to the big screen. The project is set up at Universal, where Hasbro has a six-year strategic partnership.
Platinum Dunes’ Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller will produce “Ouija” along with Hasbro.
Although the specific log line for the film is being kept under wraps, the film will be a supernatural adventure with the Ouija board playing an integral part of the story. The movie is not taking a “Jumanji”-like approach, which involved a game coming to life.
While divination or spiritual boards have been around for centuries, they began being sold as novelty items in the late 1800s, with the first Ouija board, one with an alphabet on it, being patented in 1890. Players’ fingers are placed on a small planchette that mysteriously moves to letters and numbers in order to spell out messages from beyond the earthly realm.
The board has been produced by Hasbro’s Parker Brothers since 1966, with millions being sold worldwide.
Bennett Schneir, Hasbro’s senior vp and managing director of motion pictures will oversee the project for Hasbro.
Berenbaum penned “Elf” and worked on “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Zoom,” and “The Haunted Mansion.” The scribe was approached by Hasbro before the company’s partnership with Universal and his deal only very recently closed.
Platinum Dunes, known for its horror remakes, is working on “Unborn,” an original supernatural thriller being directed by David Goyer.
The project is another example of WMA synergy at work: the agency reps Hasbro, Berenbaum and Platinum Dunes.
Bay’s last ”Transformers” movie featured ”one heart-stopping scene after another,” Callahan said. ”To have Bethlehem as a backdrop for all that is going to be spectacular.”
He also joked that he’s lobbying to get into the film, even if that means playing a corpse in a crowd scene.
Many members of the Lehigh Valley’s filmmaking community are eager to see a Dreamworks movie set spring up in their backyard.
”It doesn’t get any bigger than that,” said Kathy McAuley of the Lehigh Valley Film Office. ”This is undoubtedly the biggest thrill that I’ve had, working to bring filmmakers here.”
”Transformers 2,” which is scheduled for a 2009 release, will also be filming in Philadelphia. The production is expected to spend more than $5 million between its operations in Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley and New Jersey, Callahan said.
Read the complete article here.
There are only 13 directors in film history who’s films have grossed more than $1 billion at the box office (domestically). Michael Bay did it in seven. So did James Cameron. The list follows:
1 Steven Spielberg $3,447.9
2 Robert Zemeckis $1,802.9
3 George Lucas $1,700.5
4 Ron Howard $1,606.3
5 Chris Columbus $1,567.9
6 Gore Verbinski $1,308.5
7 Tim Burton $1,289.3
8 Peter Jackson $1,271.7
9 Sam Raimi $1,249.7
10 James Cameron $1,146.9
11 Michael Bay $1,093.7
12 Clint Eastwood $1,002.4
13 Andrew Adamson $1,000.6