'Water for Elephants' debuts today in Chattanooga

'Water for Elephants' debuts today in Chattanooga

April 22nd, 2011 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Movies

The circus is (finally) coming to town.

Local fans will have the opportunity to see "Water for Elephants," about half a year after a crew spent a month filming on location in the Chattanooga area.

The film, based on the New York Times bestseller by Sara Gruen, follows a Depression-era veterinarian played by Robert Pattinson, who is hired on to care for the animals of a traveling circus. Academy Award winners Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz play the married couple who own the circus.

Tickets for tonight's VIP, red-carpet premiere at Carmike Majestic 12 at 7:20 p.m. are sold out, but a section of Broad Street will be closed off for free, circus-style publicity events, including appearances by actor Scott MacDonald and a fire breather.

Additional show times at all Carmike Theaters will be at 2:15, 4:45 and 9:45 p.m. The 7:20 p.m. show at other area Carmike theaters was still available at press time.

Attracting "Water for Elephants" was a major coup that should help establish the city as a go-to location for the region, said city Education, Arts & Culture administrator and film commissioner Missy Crutchfield.

"We've got this reputation now," Crutchfield said. "As long as I can ... make it happen with all the talented people here who can help make [studios'] film experience possible, we'll keep winning and winning and winning."

LIVE COVERAGE

Follow live photo, video and blog coverage of the red-carpet premiere tonight here starting by 6 p.m.

According to a March 22 Education, Arts & Culture news release, "Water for Elephants" generated $1 million for local businesses, making it the most economically impactful film overseen by the commission since it was founded in 2006.

As with 2008's "Leatherheads," another period piece and the last major feature to be filmed in Chattanooga, the crew of "Water for Elephants" chose to film in Chattanooga primarily to take advantage of the city's rich historical railroad ties and natural beauty, Crutchfield said.

During filming last July and August, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum provided a period-appropriate train and dedicated a three-mile stretch of rails to the shoot. Fans of Robert Pattinson, best known as the star of the "Twilight" films, eagerly tracked down locations for his scenes.

Landing a major national release, especially one with such star power, will have a lasting impact on Chattanooga, Crutchfield said.

"'Water for Elephants' is ... the biggest film with basically the world's biggest star, Robert Pattinson, so we hit a double home run," she said.

IF YOU GO

What: "Water for Elephants" red-carpet premiere.

When: The 7:20 p.m. showing is sold out at the Majestic, but tickets were still available at press time for other showings there and all showings at other Carmike theaters.

Where: Carmike Majestic 12, 311 Broad St.

Phone: 826-2370.

Website: www.waterforelephants.com