published Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Chattanooga skyline has cameo in weekend's No. 1 movie

ON THE BIG SCREEN

Chattanooga has been the site of several movies:

• "42," the biopic of baseball star Jackie Robinson, spent a few weeks filming at Engel Stadium. The film opens April 12.

• "Iron Man 3," scheduled to open in early May, features scenes from Chattanooga, although no filming actually took place here.

• "Water for Elephants," starring Robert Pattinson of the "Twilight" films and Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, was filmed in Chattanooga and North Georgia and released in 2011.

If you've seen the current No. 1 box office hit "Identity Thief" and thought you saw a hint of Chattanooga in one scene, congratulations. You have sharp eyes.

Makers of the comedy, which stars Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, brought helicopters to town last summer and filmed a broad shot of downtown, including the Tennessee Aquarium, from the area around the Market Street Bridge.

"This involved coordinating with both the Chattanooga Police Department and the Federal Aviation Administration in securing the location and ensuring the safety of all involved," says Missy Crutchfield, Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts & Culture administrator and Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee Film commissioner.

In "Identity Thief," the skyline of Chattanooga morphs into St. Louis.

William Aven, manager of Carmike Majestic 12 in downtown Chattanooga, said that though it's a quick scene, it's interesting.

"My projectionist is the one who saw it before I did," Aven said. "It's a scene of the Market Street Bridge, but the top of the bridge has been superimposed with the St. Louis [Gateway] Arch. You can see the top of the new part of the Aquarium and the lights of the Bijou in the background."

"Identity Thief" is just the latest in a spate of recent films that use Chattanooga as a backdrop.

Last summer, "42," the biopic of baseball star Jackie Robinson, spent a few weeks filming at Engel Stadium. The film about Robinson, the first black man to play Major League baseball, stars Harrison Ford -- who came to Chattanooga for filming -- as Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey and Chadwick Boseman as Robinson. It is set for release on April 12.

"Iron Man 3," scheduled to open in early May and expected to be one of the summer's blockbusters, features scenes from Chattanooga, although no filming actually took place here. Instead, filmmakers used the town of Kenansville, N.C., to create a replica of "a cool, wintry Chattanooga," according to reports.

"Water for Elephants," starring Robert Pattinson of the "Twilight" films and Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, was filmed in Chattanooga and North Georgia and released in 2011. Pattinson was seen around town at various spots, including the Chattanooga Billiard Club downtown.

In another local film connection, Chattanooga's Warren McLelland Aerial Photography assisted in the filming of the science fiction movie "Remnants." The film was made in 2011 and hasn't been released to theaters.

"It was filmed on the back of Lookout Mountain," says aerial photographer Matt McLelland, who co-owns the company with helicopter pilot Michael Warren.

"It's about a meteor circulating Earth that emits a pulse wave that cuts off all electricity," says McLelland, who's an extra in the movie. "The movie focuses on one community and how they deal with no electricity, no cars and no modern-day technology."

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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