In the Spotlight: UNO Lakefront Arena Stars in Louis Leterrier's Now You See Me
Director Louis Leterrier's star-studded film Now You See Me premiered last month, placing second in the box office during its first week on the market and earning more than $100 million by mid-June. Little did many who watched Hollywood stars walk the red carpet know that the actors spent plenty of time last fall at the University of New Orleans.
For several weeks last year, filming of Now You See Me took place at the University's Lakefront Arena on Franklin Avenue, which throughout the year hosts filmmakers and production crews eager to take advantage of the arena's basketball courts, stadium seating, swimming pools and other assets, as well as the University's ever-green and spacious Lakefront campus.
Now You See Me, produced by Summit Entertainment, centers around a team of four magicians who perform together in Las Vegas as a group called The Four Horsemen. In a grand finale trick, the magicians conscript an audience member to help them with their next trick: robbing a bank.
As cameras rolled for the film, UNO's Lakefront Arena doubled as MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, said Marco Perez, general manager of the Lakefront Arena. Over the course of several weeks, producers filmed car explosions in UNO parking lots, sheltered characters from simulated rainfall under arena ramps, took hallway shots inside arena corridors and filmed city scenes using green screens with plans to fill in the background later.
Marquis actors including Michael Caine, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Morgan Freeman regularly came and went from set, Perez said.
At one point, Now You See Me film crews filled the seats the 10,000-seat arena, mostly with dummies, a trick also used in the filming of Glory Road, Perez said.
Partially filmed at Lakefront Arena, the 2006 American drama sports film directed by James Gartner is based on a true story surrounding the events leading to the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.
Earlier this spring, the University of New Orleans and Lakefront Arena hosted the production of three major films, as well as the filming of Season Eight of America's Got Talent, which airs this month on network television.
Last week, the Lakefront Arena played host to X-Factor and this summer will host auditions for American Idol.
"They have all been very pleased with the arena and our services and have commented how well maintained the facility is and how well appointed it is," said Perez. "That makes a difference."