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Area ‘dam’ attractive to filmmakers

Sean Penn. Robert De Niro. Patrick Swayze. Halle Berry. Selma Hayek. These are just a few of the A-list Hollywood names who have been in movies shot either at Lake Mead or at the Hoover Dam.

In fact, IMDB.com lists more than 80 movies filmed at these locations.

But, it is a cult favorite flick filmed right here in Boulder City that I want to highlight today.

“Cherry 2000” was filmed in 1987 in Boulder City. It debuted in 1988 and the plot actually takes place in the year 2017.

The film stars Melanie Griffith (“Working Girl,” “Crazy in Alabama”) and Laurence Fishburne (“The Matrix,” “Passengers,” “John Wick: Chapter Two”). Orion Pictures gave the movie a $10 million budget to work with and spend here and the surrounding areas.

The plot had to do with an Android sexbot and the chase for the perfect woman. I think “Cherry 2000” can best be described as “Johnny Mnemonic” meets “Weird Science” and done in the style of an Ed Wood production.

Producer Edward R. Pressman worked on “Cherry 2000” at the direct request of the movie company.

Orion Pictures was confident in hiring Pressman to make the film work since he had recent success with “Wall Street” starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.

In spite of having a talented cast, amazing cinema backdrops, Pressman on board, and the financial support from Orion (as well as 16 film distribution companies), the cheeky script and lack of genre direction resulted in a box office flop. “Cherry 2000” made an entire $14,000 during its cinematic run.

In 2011, Pressman told many people in Hollywood that he was working on a remake of the movie and was planning on not only reshooting it here in Boulder City, but he was going to have Griffith’s daughter, actress Dakota Johnson (“The Social Network,” “Fifty Shades of Grey”), star in her mother’s original role for the film.

The story leaked and internet news sites, like IndieWire.com, started to buzz about the remake.

Pressman never did end up going forward with the 2011 project for reasons that remain unclear, but profitability comes first to my mind.

Producing, however, did end up working out for Pressman, who went on to create an impressive resume of feature films including “The Crow” with Brandon Lee and “American Psycho” with Christian Bale and Jared Leto.

Boulder City has had an interesting history with Hollywood. I was lucky enough to have Nevada’s Film Office email me some information, which included scans from “The Nevada Filmography: Nearly 600 Works Made in the State, 1897 Through 2000” by Gary DuVal.

It seems nearby Hoover Dam really attracts screenwriters and producers when a script’s subject matter is either aliens or disasters.

For instance, the movie industry started using Hoover Dam as a backdrop since before it opened in 1935. There is a movie called “The Aliens Are Coming” starring actor Tom Mason as a dam worker. Mason’s character is the first victim of an alien killing spree.

Skip ahead to 2015, the movie “San Andreas,” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, features the Hoover Dam but the movie wasn’t actually filmed here.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation didn’t approve of the script (or the filming permit) since Hoover Dam was built to withstand an earthquake. The producers took creative license and glossed over this fact.

With all the celebrities coming through town over the years either for work or pleasure, the interest in Boulder City (and our adjoining sightseeing points) seems to be steadily growing.

Our very own annual Dam Short Film Festival has featured more than 100 international films. Since 2003, the festival attracts a group of seasoned cinema professionals and accompanying media to our city every February.

Between the Dam Short Film festival and CinemaCon now becoming a major point of interest in Las Vegas, and given our local ties to Hollywood, perhaps there may be a more prominent future within the film industry for Boulder City — or at least it would make for a rather interesting marketing angle with the Interstate II project in full swing.

Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @hollywoodwriter.

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