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Soccer movie could give city $100 million kick

Category: The Game of Their Lives News
Article Date: October 18, 2002 | Publication: St. Louis Business Journal | Author: Chad Garrison

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St. Louis could be the setting for a million film if directors of "Game of Their Lives" choose to shoot the movie here. The film, which tells the story of the 1950 U.S. World Cup soccer team, would be the most expensive film ever shot in the state, according to Jerry Jones, director of the Missouri Film Commission.

"I've got a hunch the way they've been talking that this is going to be a really nice budget," Jones said. "I'm hoping that it exceeds million in production costs, which would have an economic impact of at least 0 million for the city."

Jones said the film commission uses a multiplier of between 2 and 2.5 to measure the direct economic impact of movies on their host location, meaning that the estimated production costs of million for "Game of Their Lives" could generate between million and 0 million in direct spending for Missouri.

The movie, to be directed by David Anspaugh, whose previous work includes "Hoosiers" and "Rudy," stays with the sports-underdog theme of his most popular films by telling the story of the U.S. soccer team's victory over England in the 1950 World Cup. The 1-0 victory is considered one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, according to Bill McDermott, a St. Louis native who announced World Cup games for ESPN in 1994 and 1998.

Unlike the English team composed of professional athletes, McDermott said the U.S. club was a hastily assembled group who left their everyday jobs to join the team just weeks before the tournament.
"It's safe to say that this was one of the most astounding upsets of anytime in organized sports, and what makes it special for St. Louis is that five of the 11 starters on that team were from here," McDermott said.

Of those five players, three of them — Harry Keough, Frank Borghi, Gino Pariani — still call St. Louis home. The other two, Charlie Columbo and Frank "Pee Wee" Wallace, have passed away, McDermott said.

J. Kim Tucci, chairman of the film commission, said no one specific site in St. Louis has been chosen for the movie, but the movie would most likely feature The Hill in south St. Louis where several of the players grew up. During a production visit last month by the producer and director, Tucci also showed the film crew several fields he thought might be ideal for shooting.

The story line for the movie takes place in St. Louis, New York and Brazil where the World Cup was held in 1950. Jones said the idea is to film the St. Louis and New York scenes here, and as many Brazil scenes as feasible.

Although Jones said he is optimistic the movie will be shot in St. Louis, he cautioned that nothing is final until filming begins in late April of 2003.

In January 2001, the production crew for the Angelina Jolie film "Life or Something Like It," which was written by a Missouri screenwriter and was to take place in St. Louis, made a similar preliminary visit here but ended up filming the movie in Vancouver and replacing the St. Louis backdrop with Seattle. Over the last several years, hundreds of feature film productions have moved to Canada or overseas where the exchange rate can make the filming costs much cheaper, Jones said.

Ginger Perkins, a producer with Los Angeles-based Crusader Entertainment, which will finance the film, said the filming of the New York and St. Louis scenes would not be done internationally, but the production crew is reviewing several possible film sites, including New York. The official filming locations will be decided early next year, she said.

The most expensive film ever shot in Missouri was the 1999 film "Ride with the Devil," a film directed by Ang Lee of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" fame and starring Tobey Maguire. Production costs for that movie, shot mostly in northwestern Missouri, were between million and million. Following production, the Missouri Department of Economic Development conducted an economic impact study of the film that placed the value of the film for Missouri at between million and million — a finding that Jones said is on the conservative side.

Perkins said the production is looking for name actors to fill the larger roles, but will return to St. Louis Nov. 13 for casting of supporting and bit parts. Sharon Tucci, Kim's wife, and the owner of the talent company TalentPlus, is assisting with the casting of the movie.

2002 American City Business Journals Inc.


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