"Water for Elephants," the major motion picture partially shot in the Chattanooga area and starring actors Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, will open here and nationally on Friday.
A VIP, red-carpet premiere showing is planned for the 7:20 p.m. screening at the Majestic 12 downtown.
The VIP celebration is being presented by the Chattanooga Times Free Press along with the city's Department of Education, Arts & Culture; Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche of Chattanooga; Carmike Theaters and WRCB-TV 3.
It will be a circus-themed, Hollywood-style red-carpet affair beginning at 6 p.m. Actor Scott MacDonald, who plays "Blackie" in the film, will be in attendance, as will a fire-breathing performer, stilt walkers, clowns, aerialists and jugglers. A section of Broad Street in front of the Majestic 12 will be closed to traffic.
The VIP screening is invitation-only, but Times Free Press readers can win a pair of tickets by posting an answer to the question: "What is your all-time favorite movie?" on the Chattanooga Times Free Press Facebook wall. Five winners, chosen at random, will be notified via Facebook message by 5 p.m. Thursday.
A second 7:20 p.m. screening of the movie at the Majestic 12 Friday is sold out. The film is also being shown at Carmike Northgate 14 and Carmike Battlefield 10.
"Water for Elephants" is based on a novel by Sara Gruen. It is the story of a veterinarian student (Pattinson) who drops out of school before graduation after his parents are killed. He hooks up with a traveling circus and is eventually hired to care for the animals. He develops a relationship with one of the performers (Witherspoon), who happens to be married to the animal trainer.
Scenes with Pattinson for the film were shot in July at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and in a house on West Cove Road below Chickamauga, Ga.
Fans of Pattinson, the "Twilight" film series star, learned of the shooting weeks before, and many traveled here in hopes of getting a glimpse of the star.
A film crew, made up of local and out-of-town workers, spent about a month on the local filming. Pattinson was here for about a week.
Missy Crutchfield, with the city's Department of Education, Arts & Culture and the Chattanooga Film Commission, said attracting the crew here was the result of a cooperative effort between her office and local officials. She said attracting such film productions is big business and good for the economy on many levels.
"It brought so much excitement and validation for the Film Commission," she said. "We'd spent five years working on luring films here, and the production itself - having the crew here staying in hotels, eating in restaurants - brought over $1 million into our economy.
"... Film means big business, and it is good for Tennessee."