Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cleveland's Marvel-ous Movie Premiere

Cleveland natives Joe and Anthony Russo directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, out Friday. 

Tuesday night at Cinemark at Valley View, about 1,500 people all witnessed an incredible underdog story good enough for Hollywood, but made in Cleveland. We're not talking about the movie screened there, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but the blockbuster's directors, Joe and Anthony Russo. Read our April issue for the full story.

As kids, the self-taught filmmakers from Cleveland's East Side first picked up a video camera to film the family vacation at Disney World. This time, Disney bankrolled the brothers to shoot The Winter Soldier for six weeks in their hometown. About $80 million (of the estimated $150 to $170 million budget) was spent in the region, Joe says. The local cast and crew, along with the Russos' family and friends, were invited to the Cleveland premiere, which followed screenings in Los Angeles, Paris, London and Beijing.

This was the Russos' third time making a film in Cleveland. The first was a darkly comic student film Pieces, which premiered on the wall of their parents' garage. That led to the caper comedy, Welcome to Collinwood. Then the always affable directors were approached by Ron Howard to make Arrested Development. Though they won an Emmy for directing the pilot, the show was eventually canceled due to dwindling ratings and has been rebooted by Netflix. Their biggest success, Community, airs on NBC Thursdays at 8 p.m.

The Winter Soldier was spectacular, but you'll have to see for yourself Friday when it hits theaters nationwide. No spoilers here. It's no secret Marvel has already negotiated with the Russos to film the next chapter in Captain America's saga. Before the film, a live presentation appeared on all five screens, in which Ivan Schwarz, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, mentioned the possibility of that film being made here, too. "If you want to make that promise today, it's cool," he told the brothers, only half-joking.

Joe and Anthony stole the show, thanking the state for providing the $9.5 million tax credit, the city for putting up with the West Shoreway shutdown, and of course, their family, which probably filled up half the theaters.

Afterward, Joe was out in the sea of people, where he is most comfortable, getting his picture taken and hugging everyone who walked by. Anthony, who prefers a more quiet environment, hung back by the theater doorway and talked to people one-on-one.

"We really feel like we made this movie for ourselves, like we're the audience," Anthony said. "To be around other people, to see them react the same way we did to the film, was just really exciting, especially because they were people so close to home."

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