Entertainment: 'Battle: Baton Rouge' just doesn't have the same ring to it
Long Beach, meet Louisiana.
You might recall that just last month, The Times' Business section reported that Long Beach was the new Miami, at least when it came to movie and TV production.
Well, the sea worm has turned.
Now the Business section is reporting that Louisiana is the new Los Angeles. It seems that most of the upcoming movie "Battle: Los Angeles" was actually filmed in the Bayou State.
As the story says: "Except for the movie’s opening sequences at Camp Pendleton and the alien beach attack in Santa Monica, 90% of the film was shot in Louisiana’s capital, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport in the northwest part of the state. Several large sets, including a replica of a Santa Monica apartment complex, were built in Baton Rouge. The Capitol building was used to convey City Hall in downtown L.A., and the historic neighborhood known as Spanish Town doubled for Santa Monica and Venice."
I wonder if a two-bedroom-one-bath-needs-TLC-shack in Baton Rouge/Santa Monica costs $1.1 million?
From the trailers, it appears that Los Angeles/Baton Rouge/Shreveport takes quite a beating in the movie. Which is one reason the filmmakers didn't shoot in L.A. Seems they needed to do stuff like shut down freeways for weeks. Which is impossible in Los Angeles, where the only time the freeways are shut down is every day at rush hour.
Louisianans are cut from stronger cloth, though. They almost lost the whole state in Hurricane Katrina, so what’s one freeway more or less?
Now, in Tuesday's Op-Ed pages, Michael Kinsley argued that states' movie subsidies were a waste.
Michael, meet reality. From The Times story:
"Obviously, the tax incentives were huge," said Jonathan Liebesman, who directed the $75-million film from Columbia Pictures, which shot 13 weeks in Louisiana in late 2009 and received a tax credit of nearly $15 million.
Louisiana was one of the first states to adopt aggressive film tax credits in 2002 and remains the busiest hub for production outside of L.A. and New York. Last year, about 100 commercials, TV shows and movies spent $674 million in the state, including the Peter Berg-directed film "Battleship" and the sequel "Twilight: Breaking Dawn." That was up from 70 projects and spending of $361 million in 2009. Beyond attracting films, the state has also built up its own industry, with 15 sound stages and enough workers to handle 10 film crews at once.
"Battle: Los Angeles" was among the largest features to be shot in the state. With a crew of about 200 people and 3,000 extras, the film contributed about $46.5 million in spending to the state, said Chris Stelly, who heads the state film office.
To be fair, Kinsley's main point was that states couldn’t win if they were all fighting over the same movie-making pie. OK.
But that doesn't mean Southern California isn't in deep gumbo. I'm assuming, for example that Louisiana doesn't plan to give back the $46.5 million it got for being the fake L.A.
Still, we'll always have Long Beach/Miami.
And I'm pretty sure they didn't give out the Academy Awards in Shreveport.
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: A scene from Sony's upcoming release, "Battle: Los Angeles," filmed in Louisiana. The film has become a symbol of L.A.'s vulnerability to runaway production. Louisiana offers tax breaks and the willingness to shut down major freeways. Credit: Richard Cartwright / Sony Pictures