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Films shot in Queens during the Aughts generated as much as $3.5 billion, landed on critics’ lists for the best movies of the decade and garnered three Best Picture nominees at the Academy Awards as well as 11 more for acting prizes.
At least 56 feature films that were released theatrically were shot in the borough between 2000 and 2009, including “It’s Complicated,” a Meryl Streep comedy that opened Christmas Day and is among the last films to be released this decade.
Filmmakers and studios chose borough neighborhoods from Astoria to Bayside to locate their cinematic stories, using western Queens studios Silvercup and Kaufman Astoria for their sets and well-known locales such as the New York Hall of Science as backdrops.
Queens-based films grossed an estimated $3.5 billion in their American theatrical runs alone, not including video sales, rentals or overseas revenues.
Two films from 2000 — Woody Allen’s “Small Time Crooks” and “28 Days,” a Sandra Bullock vehicle about alcoholism — were filmed at Shea Stadium, while the gritty crime drama “The Yards” featured shooting in Elmhurst and Maspeth. In addition, the dance drama “Center Stage” had scenes filmed in Ridgewood, while the Samuel L. Jackson-starring remake of “Shaft” had College Point backdrops.
The following year saw only two films being made in the borough, one of which was the indie “The Business of Strangers.” But the other picture, Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums,” has been listed by a number of critics as among the decade’s best. The bittersweet New York family dramedy was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar.
Filming picked up for the 2002 slate and included the comedy “The Guru,” which was shot partly in Richmond Hill; Woody Allen’s “Hollywood Ending” at Kaufman Astoria; the drama “Changing Lanes,” which was filmed in Woodside; and the Eminem semi-biographical film “8 Mile,” which was set in Detroit but featured some borough shooting.
The colossus “Spider-Man,” which is one of the top 10 grossing films of all time, was shot partly in Forest Hills, where Peter Parker’s character grew up. Two acting Oscars — Astoria-born Christopher Walken’s supporting nomination for “Catch Me If You Can” and Daniel Day-Lewis’ Best Actor nod for “Gangs of New York” — came out of 2002’s borough slate, while “Gangs” was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director (Martin Scorsese, originally from Corona).
The borough saw fewer film sets in 2003 — Woody Allen’s “Anything Else” in Astoria, “The Station Agent” in the Rockaways and the Brittany Murphy comedy “Uptown Girls” at Silvercup — but in 2004 business picked up.
“Spider-Man 2” set its sights on Forest Hills and Sunnyside locales, while “The Manchurian Candidate” and “The Stepford Wives” remakes were shot at Kaufman Astoria Studios and the comedy “Raising Helen” was filmed in Astoria. The year yielded two acting nominations for Academy Awards: Catalina Sandino Mareno (Best Actress) for her portrayal of a drug mule in “Maria Full of Grace,” which lensed in Jackson Heights, and Laura Linney (Best Supporting Actress) for “Kinsey,” which had a scene in Woodside.
Borough filming remained steady in 2005 with the Robert DeNiro thriller “Hide and Seek” at Silvercup, the Sean Penn drama “The Interpreter” in Long Island City and at John F. Kennedy International Airport and the indie “Chooch” in Bayside. Steven Spielberg nabbed two Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director for his historical political thriller “Munich,” which culminates in a controversial final scene filmed on the Long Island City waterfront.
The last four years of the decade were banner years for the borough. In 2006, eight major films were released that were shot in Queens, such as the thriller “Awake” and “The Pink Panther” remake, both of which were made at Kaufman Astoria, as well as Robert DeNiro’s “The Good Shepherd” (Rockaway Beach), “Romance and Cigarettes” (Jackson Heights) “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” with Uma Thurman (Forest Hills and Astoria) and Astoria-born Dito Montiel’s “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.”
The year had three major Oscar contenders: Ryan Gosling got a Best Actor nod for his portrayal of a drug-addicted teacher in “Half Nelson,” which included filming at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, while the Kaufman Astoria-shot drama “Little Children” landed nominations for Kate Winslet (Best Actress) and Jackie Earle Haley (Best Supporting Actress) and “The Devil Wears Prada,” also at Kaufman, put Meryl Streep in the running for Best Actress.
Two of 2007’s biggest grossers — “Spider-Man 3” (Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Jackson Heights) and “The Bourne Ultimatum” (Kaufman Astoria) — had scenes in Queens, the first of which held its gala premiere in Astoria for the Tribeca Film Festival. Other films that year were “Chop Shop,” which was set in Willets Point, as well as “Music and Lyrics” and “We Own the Night,” both of which were shot at Kaufman Astoria.
Sidney Lumet’s crime drama “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” filmed at the Bay Terrace shopping center, while “Michael Clayton” shot at the Kew Gardens Courthouse. The latter film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Tony Gilroy), Best Actor (George Clooney), Best Supporting Actor (Tom Wilkinson) and Best Supporting Actress (Tilda Swinton).
In 2008, several small indie films were shot in Queens, such as “The Babysitters” in Maspeth, “Paraiso Travel” in Jackson Heights and “Note By Note: The Making of Steinway L1037,” a documentary about the making of a piano at the Steinway & Sons factory in Astoria. But studio films chose locales in the borough as well at sites in Long Island City (“Baby Mama”) and at Kaufman Astoria (“Sex & the City: The Movie” and “Pride & Glory”).
This year has seen the release of six major films from Queens: Dito Montiel’s “Fighting” (Flushing), “Gigantic” (York College), “Old Dogs” (JFK) and “Julie and Julia” (Astoria and Long Island City) as well as Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works” and the remake of “The Taking of Pelham 123,” both of which used sets at Kaufman Astoria.
TV shows shot in Queens during the Aughts included “The Sopranos,” “NYPD Blue,” “Sex & the City,” “Gossip Girl,” “30 Rock” and “Rescue Me.”
Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at criticalconditions.net.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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