Oregon movies bring $62 mil to state economy

film reel

PORTLAND, Ore. –  From Harrison Ford to Timothy Hutton, 2009 was a star-studded year for film-making in Oregon. At least these four major films were released with ties to Oregon:

  • "Coraline," an animated box-office success when it opened at No. 3 with $16.3 million in ticket sales. This critically acclaimed film tells the story of a young girl, played by Dakota Fanning,  who moves from Michigan to rural Oregon. It's the first stop-motion animated film to be conceived and shot in 3-D, and was crafted by Nike Chairman Phil Knight's Portland-based animation studio, Laika (formerly Vinton Studios of California Raisin fame). This movie went on to be nominated for numerous awards including a Golden Globe for best animated feature. (See Tony Robinson's DVD review of "Coraline".)
  • "The Road," starring Robert Duvall, with its coastal scenes filmed in Oregon.
  • "Burning Plain," with Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger, has exterior shots from Portland and other shots from Oregon's Depoe Bay.
  • "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," which was filmed primarily in Vancouver, British Columbia, briefly swooped into the Portland area with pickup footage in Washougal and the Columbia Gorge. This film pulled down the No. 1 movie slot with a record Thanksgiving weekend. (Note that "Twilight," the first film released in 2008, was shot exclusively in Oregon and Southwest Washington. See locations.)

In all, Oregon took down its biggest year yet from film, television and commercial production fees in 2009. Executive director of the Governor's Office of Film and Television, Vince Porter, estimates total spending in the state was $62 million.

Meanwhile, 2010 is no shrinking violet for Oregon television and film making. Porter cites this television and these four films coming to a screen near you:

  • The television show "Leverage," starring Timothy Hutton, has been shot in Portland and is coming back for a third season in 2010. In 2009, nearly 400 Oregonians worked on the show for 140,000 hours total pay.
  • "Something Wicked," which stars the late Brittany Murphy, was filmed in Eugene.
  • "Meeks Cutoff," starring "Brokeback Mountain"-girlfriend Michelle Williams and Bruce Greenwood, was shot in Burns and Hines, Ore. 
  • A new film project from Portland's own director Gus Van Sant was shot in Portland, including scenes that roped off Southeast Clinton Street, in December 2009. That film may not be released until 2011.
  • "Extraordinary Measures," starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, was shot in and around Portland in June 2009. It is due in theaters Jan. 22.

Filmed along Portland's "Alameda Ridge" and at Portland's iconic Oaks Park roller-skating rink, "Extraordinary Measures" uses extras hailing from Clark County, Wash., Portland and other Oregon cities. A screening of the film will be scheduled in Portland, according to the Oregon Film Commission. Apply for free tickets to the Jan. 19 public screening here.

While these films are boosting the local economic bottom line, now KATU.com visitors can boost the bottom line of their favorite charity thanks to a promotion from "Extraordinary Measures." The film is offering a chance to win $10,000 for the 501(c)(3) charity of your choice.

To enter, upload a 30-second to 10-minute inspirational video to http://extraordinarymeasuresthemovie.com/#/quilt. Every vote earns that video an extra chance at the $10,000 charity-donation prize. Full contest rules. Entries comprise on online Inspirational Quilt, which videos serving as squares/patches. The video-posting deadline is Jan. 26.

- Portland journalist Michael Lee contributed to this report.

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