By Luis Gomez
4:53 PM CDT, August 21, 2011
Not much is known about Plano, a Western suburb nearly 60 miles outside of Chicago, but that will change starting on Monday. That’s when the star-studded Superman reboot, “Man of Steel,” begins what is scheduled to be a 12-day shoot on the city’s Main Street.
It remains to be seen what exactly will film there (Plano Mayor Bob Hausler and local business owners were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement), but the film sets reveal that the city will play the role of Smallville — the town where Clark Kent is raised — and that there is some destruction coming its way. Uncle Lar’s Pizza has been turned into Smallville’s Best Pizza and R B & Associates Land Surveyors, Inc., is now Smallville Land Surveyors. The Sears, a 7-Eleven complete with gas pumps and the partially wrecked Ezra’s Mail Depot? Those structures are all fake.
“I heard a rumor that we did have a person pull up to the pump,” Hausler said of the fake 7-Eleven, laughing.
The city, which has a population of around 10,900, was first approached by “Man of Steel” in March, and construction on the film sets began in May. “One thing they like is the atmosphere of our community,” Hausler said. “We’re a small town and (Warner Bros.) wanted a small-town feel to it. They also liked that it’s close to Chicago.”
Like the filming in downtown Chicago, scheduled to take place Sept. 7-17, filming in Plano will attract its share of spectators. Hausler, however, believes they will be wasting their time. Spectators were able to see some of the filming when the cast and crew shot for one day in Plano Aug. 15 but, over the next 12 days, they will be kept farther away from the action due to safety and secrecy concerns.
Will the crowds be kept away due to explosions, as was the case with the filming of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” on the downtown riverfront last year? “I believe certain things like that might happen,” Hausler said without specifying.
Hausler invites the public to come out to Plano after shooting ends and hopes to take advantage of the strong interest in the film by creating a Smallville museum with artifacts from the shoot. The BP gas station on nearby East South Street is taking advantage by selling Superman T-shirts, while the bakery inside the gas station is selling Superman cookies and doughnuts with plastic Superman-branded rings on them.
“All employees will be wearing Superman shirts (this) week,” said BP manager Tim Woolsey.
Woolsey has a framed photo in the BP back office of himself with the last Hollywood star to film a movie in Plano: Larry the Cable Guy. The “Git-R-Done” comedian shot “Witless Protection” in Plano in 2007 and posed for photos with spectators several times a day during filming, Woolsey recalled. It’s not known which “Man of Steel” stars — including Henry Cavill (as Clark Kent/Superman), Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon — will take part in the Plano shoot.
While many local residents are thrilled about the potential star sightings, some are already counting down the days until filming ends.
“I think everyone is excited about it, but we all live in a small town and are used to our small town,” said Sue Armour, whose Hard Daze bar on Main Street will be used for filming on Thursday. “As exciting as it is, it’ll be nice to get back to normal.”
Hard Daze is nearly sold out of the Superman-themed T-shirts it has been selling to its regular customers, but other than that has yet to see a spike in business. Armour said she believes local businesses will see those results during and after filming — as does the mayor.
“It’s really an asset to our community and is something that will never be forgotten,” Hausler said of the filming. “And any time you can bring more people in, they are going to visit our different establishments and buy food at our restaurants and buy gas at our gas stations — other than 7-Eleven.”
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