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Detroit Superbowl Commercial was actually shot in LA. After sparking a debate among pundits over its real or imagined political message, one of the most buzzed-about Super Bowl commercials — Chrysler’s “It’s Halftime in America” ad — is making another set of waves not for what it says but for where it was shot.
It turns out that the two-minute spot, which has gravelly voiced Clint Eastwood touting Detroit and its automobile industry rebound as inspirational symbols for the rest of the country, was not actually filmed in the Motor City — a fact now being used as yet another talking point by media experts arguing the ad’s intentions.
According to Wieden + Kennedy Portland, the advertising agency that produced the commercial, the spot was shot in New Orleans and various California cities including San Francisco, Oakland and right here in Los Angeles — where the tunnel scenes were filmed at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
For the commercial’s Detroit-only scenes, Chrysler used footage from its 2011 Super Bowl ad featuring Detroit-raised rapper Eminem driving through the country’s auto capital.
Chrysler, which maintains that the ad is apolitical, says the various filming locations were never meant to act as stand-ins for Detroit.
“The filming of the piece throughout the country was intentional,” said Chrysler spokeswoman Dianna Gutierrez. “This message was about the country as a whole and it was important to showcase that breadth.”
A similar ad controversy flared up in 2009 when the California Milk Advisory Board, which oversees the state’s dairy farmers, decided to shoot part of its “Happy Cows” commercial series in Auckland in order to take advantage of New Zealand’s low production costs. The argument from those opposed to the ads then was as it is now: if a commercial is promoting a specific place, well, it should probably film there.
When a Building Play a Role in a Film. To Los Angelenos, the name Roosevelt Hotel calls to mind the Spanish-style building on Hollywood Boulevard, the site of the first Academy Awards. But it's the other Roosevelt Hotel, the one in New York City, that is getting the star treatment in the new Sam Worthington thriller "Man on a Ledge."
Named for President Theodore Roosevelt (just as the Hollywood hotel is), the 20-story hotel in Manhattan has served as a Midtown Manhattan location for “The French Connection,” “Quiz Show,” “Wall Street” and "Maid in Manhattan," as well as episodes of “The Good Wife” and “Law & Order.” The hotel will also appear in this year’s “Men in Black 3” and Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator.”
But the Roosevelt Hotel plays an unusually prominent role in "Man on a Ledge," in which Worthington's character stands on a ledge of the building about 200 feet above the intersection of Madison Avenue and 45th Street, while his brother is pulling off a jewelry heist on the opposite side of the street.
“I think sometimes an audience demands a certain authenticity," Worthington told the Los Angeles Times at the film’s L.A. premiere on Jan. 23. "People actually knowing that I’m up there 200-odd feet in the air adds to the thrilling aspect of it.”
Filmmakers selected the Roosevelt in part because of its grandeur. The hotel was built in 1924 and has many features that can't be found in more modern New York hotels, including its neo-classical lobby, the French marble and limestone facade, and the ledge where Worthington's character appears to contemplate suicide.
“Really, the Roosevelt was the only building that had all the elements to get the film done,” said location scout Adam Baer.
“Man on a Ledge” producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura had shot exteriors for 2007 horror film “1408” at the hotel and said it was a “very film-friendly” location to which he was eager to return. “It was also the perfect location for ‘Man on a Ledge’ because it was right on Madison Avenue,'' di Bonaventura said. "You really got a sense of the big canyons of New York there.”
Roosevelt director of sales and marketing Kevin Croke initially expressed some doubts about having the hotel depicted in a movie about a man threatening to take his own life, but changed his mind after reading the script and talking to producers. Besides, film productions bring in some extra revenue to the hotel, which charges productions anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $15,000 a day depending on the project and what part of the hotel is used.
The promotion doesn't hurt either. Croke said that the release of “Maid in Manhattan” brought in an influx of calls with requests to come in and take a picture in the hotel's employee cafeteria -- the spot where Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes share a kiss at the end of the movie. (Depending on how busy they are, hotel staff usually grant the request.)
"All the mentions of the hotel in various reviews and articles – it's great publicity for the hotel,'' Croke said.
Will audiences take the "Vow"? The new romantic drama "The Vow" is poised to steal the hearts of moviegoers this weekend. The tear-jerker starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams could gross between $35 million and $40 million in its debut, according to those who have seen prerelease audience surveys. Sony Pictures, whose Screen Gems label produced the film, is projecting a more conservative domestic opening of between $28 million and $30 million.
It should be a strong weekend at the multiplex, as three other new movies are also expected to bring in healthy ticket sales. "Safe House," an action thriller headlined by Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, will likely debut with around $25 million. A 3-D re-release of George Lucas' 1999's "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" could rake in roughly $20 million, while the 3-D sequel "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" will likely start off with around $13 million.
"The Vow" is based on the true life story of a woman who lost her memory in a car accident and had to fall in love with her husband for the second time. The film has immense buzz online, where young women have for weeks been posting messages on Twitter and Facebook about the picture and its heartthrob star Tatum.
The 31-year-old actor appeared in a similar romance picture that came out around Valentine's Day in 2010, "Dear John." That film, based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, debuted with $30.5 million and ultimately collected $80 million in the U.S. and Canada. The biggest hit to be released around the Feb. 14 holiday is the aptly named "Valentine's Day," which featured a cavalcade of A-list stars and opened to $56.3 million in February 2010.
"The Vow" was co-financed by Spyglass Entertainment and Screen Gems for about $30 million.
Universal Pictures and Relativity Media spent far more on "Safe House," which was made for around $85 million. The movie, which stars Washington as a renegade CIA agent on a mission in South Africa, is so far appealing mostly to older males and African American moviegoers.
The film is on track to open to around the same figure the 57-year-old actor's last release, 2010's action thriller "Unstoppable," which launched with $22.7 million.
Walt Disney Studios has found some success releasing a couple of its classic animated titles in 3-D. Its reissue of "The Lion King" last fall wound up raking in around $94 million, while "Beauty and the Beast" has made about half that much since its re-release in January.
Still, it remains to be seen whether audiences will embrace 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's updated version of the "Star Wars" installment -- especially considering the movie was poorly received by fans upon its original debut. However, the film grossed $924.3 million at the worldwide box office, of which $431 million came from domestic ticket sales.
"Mysterious Island" is a sequel to 2008's "Journey to the Center of the Earth," which debuted with $21 million. The movie fared well domestically, bringing in a total of about $100 million, but made an even more impressive $140.3 million overseas.
The sequel has already been released in a number of foreign countries and has so far grossed $41.5 million internationally, performing best in Korea. It has already grossed 15% more than the 2008 release did abroad during the same time period.
The first "Journey" movie starred Brendan Fraser, but the actor reportedly dropped out of the sequel in 2010 because it was not being directed by Eric Brevig, the filmmaker behind the original. Fraser was replaced by Dwayne Johnson, who plays a stepfather who embarks on an adventure with his son (portrayed by "The Hunger Games" star Josh Hutcherson) to uncover a secret island.
The movie was financed by Warner Bros.' New Line division for about $79 million.
Photo: Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum star in "The Vow." Credit: Sony Pictures
The Daily Dose: Speaking of “The Vow,” the tear-jerker set to top the box office this weekend will be Spyglass Entertainment’s swan song. The amnesia romance was co-financed by the film finance and production company for about $30 million. The film was set up with Sony’s Screen Gems label just before the heads of Spyglass -- Gary Barber and Roger Bimbaum -- became the chief executives of Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Spyglass helped bring a number of hits to the big screen over the last decade, including “The Sixth Sense” and “Star Trek.”
Get your camping gear ready. Hardcore Apple geeks may soon be lining up outside the company's stores nationwide, because word on the street is that the successor to the iPad 2 may be revealed in March. The next generation of the tablet will likely have a crisper display and run faster, due to an updated chip and graphics processing unit. More on the rumors from All Things D.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? News Corp.'s quarterly profit may have risen 65%, but the company's bills related to its London phone-hacking scandal continue to rise. The company incurred an $87-million charge stemming from costs relating to the scandal this quarter alone, and the company says it is unsure how many more tens of millions it will have to shell out this year as the investigation continues. More from the Los Angeles Times and the Telegraph.
The youngs don't have time for TV. In Earth-shattering news, it seems that those young folks are increasingly watching less television via a traditional TV set. Due to the ever-increasing popularity of that thing they call the Internet, young'uns are spending more time texting, Twittering, playing video games and watching video online. As a result, per a new study by Nielsen, Americans ages 12 to 34 are watching less traditional TV. The New York Times says this means adults between 25 and 34 watched about nine minutes less of television a day in the third quarter of 2011 than in the same period in 2010.
Better check yourself before you wreck yourself. CNN political analyst Roland Martin was suspended by the network after he sent out a slew of "regrettable and offensive" tweets during the Super Bowl. The tweets in question appeared to be homophobic, centering around a pink outfit worn by a New England Patriots player and soccer star David Beckham's revealing underwear ad. "If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl," read one of Martin's tweets. Details of the suspension are at CNN.
Party crashing. Everyone knows the hottest Oscar party in town is Vanity Fair's exclusive fete, but how much would you pay to stargaze? Two tickets to the fancy Sunset Tower Hotel bash -- which has an invite list that caps off at 500 guests -- are being auctioned off for charity, and so far the highest bid is $16,000. I mean, honestly, who wouldn't pay that much for a glimpse of Ryan Gosling? Bloomberg tells you how to place your bid.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: You know that controversial Clint Eastwood Chrysler Super Bowl commercial? Yeah, it wasn't actually shot in Detroit. Funding has plummeted 41% at public television station KCET. Peace out, Hugh Laurie: After eight years, Fox's "House" will wrap after this season.
-- Amy Kaufman and others
Follow me on Twitter. Because Flint wouldn't dream of tweeting about "The Bachelor." Twitter.com/AmyKinLA
From the LA Times Company Town Blog, Click here for the latest entertainment news.