Forum

Making Pittsburgh the ‘Hollywood of the East'

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What do superheroes, school reform, and adolescence have in common? All were themes in movies filmed in Pittsburgh this summer: The Dark Knight Rises, the tentatively named Steel Town, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, respectively, helped to cement the city’s growing reputation as the “Hollywood of the East.” The abundance of road closures that the films’ shooting caused might have been annoying, but the chance to catch a glimpse of Emma Watson or Anne Hathaway seems to make the extra traffic worth it.

Filmings in Pittsburgh have brought more than just celebrities to the city, though — they have also brought new jobs. In addition to the opportunities for people to work as extras on the film, the Daily Mail reports that The Dark Knight Rises has created jobs in other, more unexpected ways. For example, local company Paul’s Lumber and Supply has been “flooded with orders” from the production crew, and the Renaissance Hotel was able to hire several additional housekeepers to work full-time while the cast and crew were staying there.

This is not the first year that movies have been filmed in Pittsburgh. Groundhog Day was filmed here in the 1990s, and the movie Smart People, starring Dennis Quaid, was actually set and filmed at Carnegie Mellon in 2006. Adventureland, starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, was filmed at Kennywood, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno was shot and set in Monroeville. The number of large blockbuster films that have been filmed here has been steadily increasing — *Unstoppable*, The Next Three Days, Love And Other Drugs, I Am Number Four, and Abduction were all recently filmed in Pittsburgh.

The Dark Knight Rises is, without a doubt, the most significant film to be filmed in the city. With an estimated budget of $250 million and a fanbase already dedicated to the movie franchise, The Dark Knight Rises already has the Daily Mail predicting that it will draw tourists to Pittsburgh once the movie has been released. It seems unlikely that the movie will generate that much tourism, though — after all, the fact that Pittsburgh is supposed to be Gotham City, a gloomy breeding ground for corruption and crime, might actually make people feel less inclined to visit. Instead of tourists, hopefully Christopher Nolan’s new movie will draw even more movie executives to Pittsburgh. The Dark Knight Rises might very well be the catalyst for a new, thriving industry in Pittsburgh: the movie industry.

There are, however, larger questions that will affect its long-term growth. Gov. Tom Corbett will need to continue the film tax program, which grants production companies a 25 percent tax break if at least 60 percent of the costs occur in Pennsylvania. While Corbett continued the program for 2011–12, he has not made a longer-term commitment, only stating that he believes it should be expanded when the budget allows. Future financial incentives would continue to grow a program that has slowly put Pittsburgh in bright lights, or — as the current case may be — in the glow of the bat signal.